Dwayne Johnson is difficult to work with, report claims. The star has ‘mountains of public goodwill’ to offset negativity, expert says

A recent report detailed the star’s “chronic lateness and lack of professionalism on set.” Will it hurt him?

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Makes "Milestone" 7-Figure Donation to SAG-AFTRA Relief Fund

Dwayne Johnson was accused of lateness and unprofessional behavior on the set in a new report

Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s nice guy reputation has been taking some hits — but the “mountains of public goodwill” he’s built over the years should outshine the drama, an expert tells Yahoo Entertainment.

A recent report from the Wrap saw more than a dozen people who worked with Johnson on the upcoming holiday action-comedy film Red One criticize his “chronic lateness and lack of professionalism on set.”

Insiders claimed the Black Adam actor — who co-stars alongside Chris Evans and J.K. Simmons — “was late an average of seven to eight hours per day and missed several entire days of production,” resulting in the movie running at least $50 million over budget. They pointed fingers at the film’s “inexperienced” lead producer, Hiram Garcia, who is Johnson’s ex-brother-in-law and ex-personal assistant, for letting things spiral. An insider called the situation “a f***ing disaster” and claimed, “Dwayne truly doesn’t give a f***.”

Sources claimed Johnson’s lateness is a pattern, saying he had a “huge fight” with an “infuriated” Ryan Reynolds after showing up five hours late to the set of their movie, Red Notice, in 2020. There’s also a wild story about him urinating in water bottles (something he previously copped to doing).

A spokesperson for Amazon MGM, the film studio behind Red One, denied the claims in the report, calling Johnson and his production company, Seven Bucks, “incredible partners.” Johnson insiders told the outlet he “averaged no more than one hour late” and “the budget did not deviate much from the agreed-upon figure.” Johnson’s rep did not respond to Yahoo’s request for comment.

Despite the scathing report, a crisis and PR expert doesn’t expect this to cause lasting damage to Johnson’s reputation.

“There is a better chance of Martians landing on the lawn of the Biden White House than this ever permanently hurting the Rock,” Eric Schiffer of Reputation Management Consultants tells Yahoo.

In addition to being one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood, Johnson is one of the most likable celebrities — and a large part of that is due to his strong work ethic. Johnson brands himself as a hard worker — his Instagram, with 397 million followers, shows a dizzying schedule of gym time, movie shoots, meetings, adorable girl dad moments and philanthropy.

Johnson’s production company, Seven Bucks, is a nod to his bank account balance when he was cut from a pro football team at age 22. It made the then broke star pivot to a career in wrestling, rising through the ranks at the World Wrestling Federation (later called World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE) before crossing over to Hollywood and starring in the Fast and the Furious and Jumanji franchises. In 2016, Forbes listed Johnson as the highest-paid actor, and currently estimates his net worth at $270 million between his movies, production company, wrestling, endorsements and brands. A key part of his success is being able to connect with the masses but not forgetting his roots, which is why many want to see him run for president.

It seems that over the last year-plus, however, there have been some negative headlines. The biggest, prior to now, was in September, when he and Oprah Winfrey faced backlash after asking people to donate to their Maui wildfire fund — instead of giving more of their own money. He acknowledged the criticism, and he and Winfrey quietly donated more than they had pledged.

The drama has been simmering elsewhere: His bankability took a small hit with 2022’s Black Adam, which didn’t perform as well as anticipated, and he faced criticism over how he handled it. The Wrap story also seemed to confirm that Johnson attempted to have his production company take over the DC films universe in 2022. It didn’t happen, and Johnson going around others for the secret meeting didn’t sit well. Variety reported on that in 2023, with an insider saying Johnson’s “demands” — including having his brand of tequila served at a premiere of PG-13-rated Black Adam — “increased and the returns just weren’t there.”

This year, Johnson made a big return to WWE and was appointed to the board of its parent company, TKO, but he was booed by fans for being almost two hours late to an April event. Recently, he’s been hamming it up to play the villain in the pro wrestling storyline. The same week, the View audience jeered the mention of his name for saying he won’t be endorsing a presidential candidate in the 2024 election. (He endorsed Joe Biden in 2020 but said he learned that sharing his political opinions only causes division.)

Johnson holds a microphone as he stands inside a wrestling ring.

Johnson was booed for showing up almost two hours late to a WWE event last month

The Wrap story has brought back into conversation Johnson’s infamous feud with his Fast and the Furious franchise co-star Vin Diesel. If Johnson really does show up eight hours late to set — or not at all — that could certainly fuel tension (though reports at the time also cited Diesel’s lateness). The article also surfaces drama with Reynolds, noting that the co-stars “didn’t speak for years” after their fall 2020 blowup but have since patched things up.

There’s been counterprogramming to the Wrap story. An unconfirmed report from Puck suggests that “unflattering” press about Johnson may stem from a former publicist. People magazine ran a story about Johnson’s “flourishing career” and how he’s found “success in many areas,” with an unnamed source saying, “People love him.” And the Rock’s own Instagram feed has been filled with sweet fan encounters and charitable endeavors.

It’s true — people do love Johnson, who has spent years cultivating a good reputation, and it should help see him through this negative patch of press.

“The best strategy for the Rock is to tackle the bad press in a setting where he can poke fun at himself and the facts of his situation,” says Schiffer. “The Rock is beloved globally and has built mountains of public goodwill that can offset these recent damaging allegations.”

How does a star like Johnson, who will voice the Maui character in the Moana sequel out later this year, break the cycle of bad press? By “addressing the negative items with empathy and truth, owning your part in it, and then showing what you learned,” says Schiffer.

He adds, “The Rock did that well with the outcry in Hawaii and will likely do the same with the hits on being late on the set of his film.”

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