Ask any movie star whether they’d “consider” doing something and the answer is almost always “maybe.” “Hey, Diego Luna, would you consider being the new Scarface?” Sure. “Hey, Justin Timberlake, would you consider hosting the Oscars?” Probably. “Hey, George Clooney, want to appear in Nespresso ads for an exorbitant amount of money?” Call my agent.
So we can’t say we were surprised when, two months ago, Dwayne Johnson said he’d consider running for president in a GQ interview. Why would he say “no” when saying “maybe” doesn’t obligate him to actually participate in politics? Instead, it’s provided plenty more press opportunities for him to have fun with the notion, as he did on both The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live, where he cast Tom “America’s Dad” Hanks as his running mate.
What separates Johnson from other celebrities who could potentially run for office—from Kanye West to Ben Affleck—is just how well known he is by the American public. Last year, he topped Forbes’s ranking of the highest paid actors after making almost $65 million from June 2015 to June 2016. He’s in three films this year alone. Being so recognized by the public helps a campaign; Donald Trump is proof of that. And a former WWE star in the Oval Office doesn’t seem like such a far-fetched idea now that a reality TV star is there.
That sort of trajectory could destroy the country, but at least one private citizens is backing it already. According to the political news website The Hill, a West Virginia man named Kenton Tilford filed paperwork for Johnson’s campaign committee on Sunday with the Federal Election Commission. “Run The Rock 2020,” as it is named in those filings, does not appear to be officially affiliated with Johnson in any way—but if he decides to start his run, he now has the documentation to do so.
What happens now? Probably nothing. Johnson told Fallon in May that his comment was specifically in response to whether he would “consider” running, not whether he is running. And, it should be noted, political filings on your behalf don’t mean you’re into it. Kanye said he was running for president, a political action committee was formed on his behalf and nothing has come of it. Establishing a political campaign committee is simply the first step any candidate must do before running for office; you can’t accept political donations until you do. It’s not an official announcement.
If the Rock does step up, will he get anywhere? Like our current president, Johnson has no political background. That said, in his 2005 Playboy Interview, he did set up himself as a centrist candidate who could unify fiscal conservatives and social liberals, although 2005 was a different era of American politics altogether. Sure, some of his WWE promos from the Attitude Era won’t help his cause, but the guy who was caught on tape saying “grab them by the pussy” was elected president. After years of fostering goodwill in Hollywood, Johnson has the charm—and one hell of a voice behind a microphone—to energize an increasingly polarized country. The question is whether we’d be able to handle another celebrity in the White House in three years. It’s looking highly doubtful at this point.