The little known fact dates back two generations in Johnson’s family. The Rock got his start as a WWE star, and comes from a long line of professional wrestlers. His father, the “Soul Man” Rocky Johnson, became a WWE world tag team champion alongside Tony Atlas. Yet even before that, The Rock’s grandfather “High Chief” Peter Maivia won multiple wrestling titles in the 1960s and 1970s.
In fact, during the early days of The Rock’s wrestling career, he fought under the name Rocky Maivia – an ode to his father and grandfather. Decades ago, his granddad earned a reputation for being a tough guy in and out of the wrestling ring. In 1967, Maivia got a chance to star in a big budget film. He became Sean Connery’s foe in the ’67 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice. Therefore Johnson’s grandfather became a star on the silver screen far before his grandson.
Peter Maivia’s Role in the James Bond Spy Thriller
Five years prior, Scottish actor Sean Connery first portrayed the 007 James Bond character in the 1962 film Dr. No. The British Secret Service actor helped popularize author Ian Fleming’s spy thriller novels once adapted for the big screen. For the fifth movie in five years, screenwriters got creative and took 007 to the Far East.
In You Only Live Twice, James Bond travels to Japan to investigate the theft of a spacecraft. While 007 takes in a local sumo wrestling match, he witnesses a fellow MI6 agent’s murder. He swiftly tracks the killer down, takes him out, and then trades clothes to impersonate him. The British spy takes the killer’s place and gets into his planned getaway car. However, the driver eventually realizes 007 is an imposter, and a brawl ensues. As we’re sure you can guess by now, the getaway driver is none other than Dwayne Johnson’s grandfather.
For around two minutes of the film, Connery and Maivia go at it in an action-packed sequence. To Maivia’s credit, he did all of his own stunts. In addition, he created his own fight choreography. While fighting James Bond, his character finds a sword and tries to hack away at 007. Yet Bond is able to avoid getting sliced up. He eventually knocks Maivia out with a small, heavy statue after he bludgeons the driver in the back of the head with it.
Obviously, The Rock has become a huge international Hollywood star, and is now the second-highest paid actor in the world. His on-screen success has far surpassed his family’s work in the movie industry. But it’s still an awesome connection to an ongoing film series that is still popular to this day.
In another ironic and unforeseen turn of events, the late Sean Connery, who passed away in October 2020, starred alongside Nicolas Cage in the 1996 action thriller The Rock. The connection came full circle even before Dwayne Johnson became a Hollywood star.