By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist April 29, 2011 at 1:43AM
Dwayne Johnson's acting career has pretty much vacillated between two opposite poles: his skull cracking ways that you can check out this weekend in "Fast Five" and his softer, more family friendly persona that he's displayed in films like "The Tooth Fairy" and "The Game Plan." But we have to admit, this news threw us for a loop and actually, is a pretty big gear change for the muscle heavy star and we're kind of rooting for him to nail it.
In an interview with the Telegraph-Journal, legendary black country musician Charley Pride revealed that Johnson will be playing him in an upcoming biopic. Originally set to star Terrence Howard with Craig Brewer ("Hustle & Flow") directing, the film fell to the wayside. "But then the ball got fumbled. New management took over the studio that was ready to begin site work on it," Pride explained. "And a decision was made to put all their resources behind thrillers -- fast actioners. They felt that was where the big box office money was then."
"Now it's back on track again but with action and comedy star Dwayne Johnson portraying me in the title role," he said. "Terrence, it seems, is tied up on other involvements for a few years."
As for whether or not Johnson has the dramatic chops to pull off the story, Pride isn't too worried about it. "Terrence is no doubt a more in-depth actor academically, but Dwayne is such a force on screen. It startled me a little at first, but he flew down to Dallas and spent a day with me just sitting, talking recently. And when he left it was like parting with an old friend. We had such similar views on so many things," the country singer said.
Anyway, we'll give Johnson a shot. As for Pride, his story is an interesting one. While he played guitar from a young age, he actually started out as a professional baseball player in the Negro leagues and seemed to be on track for a professional career when that was derailed after he was drafted into the Army. He tried to give baseball another whirl but soon turned to music and the rest as they say, is history. He slowly built a helluva career but in his early days, his race was kept a secret as the industry (and audiences) were still used to the genre being populated solely by white performers. But it would be his hit song "Just Between You and Me" that would smash the charts and launch him into stardom, also landing him a Grammy Award. But as Pride later revealed in his autobiography he struggled with manic depression for many years. To date Pride has sold over 70 million records and is still touring and singing today.
So Johnson as a singing country star? Yeah, we don't see it right away but he definitely has the charisma to pull it off. We'll be interested to see where this goes but it's a bold move for the actor, and we always like to see people take risks so we'll see how this one works out.