Tooth Fairy - Dwayne Johnson
Derek Thompson (Dwayne Johnson) enjoys the cheers of his fans © Fox

Tough guy Dwayne Johnson has played many roles in his career, and in his newest movie he portrays a hard-hitting hockey player, Derek Thompson, whose fame comes from dislodging other players’ teeth during games. When he discourages a child from following his dreams, Derek awakens that night to find a summons under his pillow accusing him of Violation 70136: Dissemination of Disbelief, and suddenly sprouts wings and is sucked up into a vortex that deposits him in Fairyland where he meets fairy caseworker, Tracy, played by Stephen Merchant, and Fairyland’s matriarch, Lily (Julie Andrews).

Sentenced to two weeks of hard time as a Tooth Fairy, under that watchful eye of Tracy, Derek begins to rediscover his own forgotten dreams.

I spoke with Dwayne Johnson about this new unique character that he’s added to his repertoire.

What interested you in doing this project?

Tooth Fairy - Dwayne Johnson
Hard-playing hockey star Derek Thompson (Dwayne Johnson) enjoys his time in the penalty box © Fox

It’s a story with universal appeal. It’s a fish-out-of-water tale about believing in the impossible and the magic. It’s for families and everyone. The Tooth Fairy is part of our culture, and part of the wonderment of being a child. It’s a character that’s never been explored, to this extent, in the movies.

Did you have a tough time playing hockey?

Speaking of the impossible! Me on ice, yes I did.  I had a wonderful time with it.  I had a couple of weeks to learn to ice skate. The majority of the movie I had wonderful stunt doubles who were skating for me.

A couple of years ago, I ruptured my Achilles (tendon) and had to get it reattached so my mobility in my ankle has been pretty step-by-step along the way so we can safely say that my ice skating is certainly not Olympic standards by any means, but I certainly did have a blast.

Tooth Fairy - Dwayne Johnson
Hockey player-turned tooth fairy Derek Thompson (Dwayne Johnson) "wings" it with some makeshift duds that combine the best of both worlds © Fox

When you first appear as the Tooth Fairy you’re wearing a tutu – only someone who is strong in their masculinity could be wearing what you wear in the film.

I felt fine. Any time you set out to make a comedy, I don’t think you should set parameters on it. If you are going to make a comedy and your sole interest is to make people laugh and feel good and entertain them then you check your ego at the door. So, for me, it was pretty easy.

What was it like working with Stephen Merchant?

Tooth Fairy - Dwayne Johnson and Stephen Merchant
Derek (Dwayne Johnson) and his caseworker Tracy (Stephen Merchant) scout Derek’s first assignment as a tooth fairy © Fox

Stephen was wonderful. He’s a very talented guy. There were times when we’d come to the set and say, ‘Listen Lem (Michael Lembeck, the director), we have this idea. We’re going to have the most ridiculous, ludicrous fight ever and not throw a punch at all’. And that’s what you end up seeing in the movie.

Who encouraged you in life?

I was really fortunate in my life to have a couple of people when I was younger. I was a bit challenged when I was younger to stay on the right path.  I was fortunate to have a wonderful mom and a couple of father figures at that time who saw potential in me, even when I didn’t, and who always embedded the thought of becoming a better man and what that really meant, and trying to find integrity along the way. So, I was really fortunate to have that.

When the script came around and I read it, it really resonated with me and the thought of the impossible becoming the possible, that resonated we me because I’m an example of that so, for me, it was very, very special.

Was it hard for you to play someone with no belief in the possibility of dreams?

It wasn’t necessarily hard for me to play that because I knew where we were going at the end of the story and I knew we were going to tell a nice story and, by the end, my character would have changed through the events so it wasn’t difficult.

What do you think is the best thing a parent can do to encourage their kids’ dreams?

I think there are a number of things you could do to encourage your kids’ dreams but I do believe, speaking from experience, in having a lot of help along the way. We’ve all stumbled and certainly deserve to get up and walk again.  Now, being a proud parent, me and my partner, I would probably say to understand the power of potential, the power of belief, believing in yourself and being comfortable with who you are and how important that is.

As you step forward every day, you’re going to see challenges, you’re going to see failures.  We should certainly learn from the failures, and be gracious with our successes as well


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.