If you took note of a young Dwayne Johnson, playing football for the University of Miami back in the '90s, you probably didn't imagine he'd go on to become one of the most valuable assets a high-profile movie could hope to cast.
Hell, even during the glory days of The Rock's wrestling career (and whatever it was he was always cooking), a viable career as an A-list actor probably seemed unlikely, arched eyebrow be damned.
But a world in which Dwayne Johnson is a hot Hollywood commodity is, in fact, the world we live in -- at least according to New York magazine's Vulture blog, which ranked the actor as one of its 100 Most Valuable Stars of 2013.
Considering criteria including box office earnings in the U.S. and abroad, Oscars, critics' scores, tabloid editors' preferences, and general "likability," Vulture placed The Rock at a solid 33 ranking on the list. That's well below top-of-the-list names like Robert Downey, Jr., Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Lawrence, and even below his Pain & Gain costar Mark Wahlberg. But it's still respectably above names with huge fan bases, including Tina Fey, Kristin Stewart, and Steve Carell.
Johnson's the guy you cast if your series of action movie sequels needs a boost, Vulture reasons: "He's become a kind of franchise Viagra, who can turn up in the likes of Fast Five, Journey 2, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation and help reinvigorate the property. As a result, he's more in demand than ever and opened four movies in the space of four months earlier this year."
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The only reason Johnson isn't ranked higher up, it seems, is that sequels seem to be what he does best; first-time films with The Rock in the starring role don't tend to earn much money (see Snitch, and yes, Pain & Gain too).
But if that's a snub, Johnson's probably not taking it too hard. Though he's ranked five places lower on the list than he was in 2012, and has a likability score of just 66% -- c'mon, who doesn't love The Rock? -- his films have racked up nearly $200 million dollars since 2008. Not bad for a sidelined scholarship kid from The U.