The Rock puts himself out there in ‘Wake Up Call’

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Dwayne Johnson says it was impossible not to take his work home with him on his new TNT reality series, Wake Up Call.

“By the end of the very first day of shooting I’m driving in my truck back home,” the wrestler-turned-actor said. “I wasn’t laughing like this! I was drained. I was completely drained, emotionally drained.”

On Wake Up Call, Johnson, 42, with the help of experts in various fields, attempts to confront and then help people who are down on their luck or who have made poor choices in their lives.

“It’s tough. There’s a lot of tears, and there’s a lot of crying, and you’re right there,” he said. “…Did I take it home? Yeah, I took it home every night.”

Johnson, aka The Rock, was there himself in the 1990s. He recalls having just $7 and a rap sheet with multiple arrests. Then he decided to give up his NFL dream and begin again. He became a professional wrestler and later an actor. His films include Fast & Furious 6, The Scorpion King and G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

The part time South Florida resident talked more about Wake Up Call, which airs at 9 p.m. Fridays, in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

You’re an executive producer on “Wake Up Call.” Why did you decide to put yourself on camera and involve yourself in people’s lives?

I felt like because I was there, and I lived it, and I experienced it. It was a good opportunity for me to connect with these individuals on the show. … I felt like let’s put our best foot forward, and if we’re gonna ask people to trust us and put in the work I felt like I should be right there.

Did people immediately make changes?

What we have found in this process is (when) people want to get better, generally (the) initial phase is strong, and they’re focused and determined and inevitably they start to slip off because they’ve been in this cycle for so long. The key was to get in there and break the cycle.

Are you keeping tabs on contestants after the cameras stop rolling?

We have great follow-up programs, and everyone is doing good to well to struggling. The responsibility falls on us to keep circling back around. I’ve got to make a call today. It’s funny we’re talking about this. A kid has fallen off the right track. It’s one thing when a psychologist calls. It’s another thing when Rock calls.

Do you think your show will have a positive impact during this time when the country is in turmoil?

When we thought about this show over a year ago, we never thought the question [would be asked], ‘Do you even care about another human being?' The timing of this is great because everybody wants to see people get better and to be better.

Special bonus: As part of his TNT duties, The Rock is also set to ring in the holidays as host of the network’s annual music spectacular Christmas in Washington, airing 8 p.m. Friday. Johnson will introduce a lineup of musical performers, including Aloe Blacc, who topped the charts around the world with Wake Me Up, his release with Avicii; Hunter Hayes, a four-time Grammy nominee and the youngest male performer ever to top the Billboard country chart; Rita Ora, the British singer songwriter who is also making a big splash in fashion and film; Christina Perri, whose hit single A Thousand Years went quadruple-platinum; and Darius Rucker, the chart-topping, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter.