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Dwayne Johnson onstage in the press room at the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Ovation Hollywood on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California.© Getty Images

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is unrecognizable following transformation for new project — see photo

The former WWE champ is stepping into his latest role with a newly Oscar-nominated actress!

Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
May 21, 2024
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The first look at A24's The Smashing Machine, a biopic on the life of former UFC/MMA champion Mark Kerr, has arrived with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in the lead role. It is based on the 2002 HBO documentary of the same name.

The 52-year-old former WWE star turned actor-cum-entrpreneur plays the role of Mark Kerr, who was a two-time UFC Heavyweight Tournament Champion, World Vale Tudo Championship tournament winner, and a PRIDE FC competitor.

The studio has released a first look at the project with a still from the film in which The Rock is seen sitting by the side of the ring, being pumped up by his trainer.

While he's in the background, the foreground is being taken up by a pair of legs in white sparkly heels, presumably belonging to the film's female lead, Oppenheimer and The Fall Guy star Emily Blunt.

The actors reunite after their turn together in 2021's Jungle Cruise, with The Rock sporting a brand new look for the film, covering up his distinctive tattoos and sporting a full head of black hair, with the subtle transformations completely diverging from his usually identifiable screen persona.

The film has just started production and will be helmed by Uncut Gems and Heaven Knows What director Benny Safdie, who also acted alongside Emily in last year's Oppenheimer.

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Fans were stunned with the film's first look, leaving social media responses like: "Is that you, Rock? Nice work by the prosthetics and makeup team," and: "That's some crazy transformation!!! Wow," as well as: "Rock looks cool with hair."

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The actor has been sharing several videos from his training sessions for the role, including a recent one where he was joined by Mark himself, showing his gratitude for the former fighter and the legacy he'd created.

Emily Blunt in a pink, flowy gown at the IF premiere © Getty Images
Emily Blunt will play Mark's wife Dawn Staples

"My training camp became complete when the man himself, Mark Kerr trained with us," The Rock captioned his latest post. "He's still a [expletive] machine, that can close the distance with scary speed and power." 

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"I'll forever be grateful to the core for his invaluable knowledge he's been gracious enough to pass onto me and especially for the brotherhood we share. Locking up with Mark, and feeling his press and power – it's no surprise he was an NCAA, UFC & VALE TUDO Heavyweight Champion."

Mark Kerr reacts after winning the heavyweight tournament during the UFC 14 event inside Boutwell Auditorium on July 27, 1997 in Birmingham, Alabama.© Getty Images
The man of the moment himself, former UFC and MMA champ Mark Kerr

He added: "That's the A side to success. The B side tells a whole other story. Thank you everyone for all your incredible support thru this intense process and journey. Production begins filming this week."

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The film concerns Mark's rise and fall in his career specifically in the year 2000, documenting his struggles with addiction and relationships while emerging as a champion in the ring. Emily plays his wife Dawn Staples who tries to find her own place in his life.

Dwayne Johnson and Mark Kerr at a training session© Instagram
The pair have undergone intense training regimens together for the new project

The Moana actor also documented his journey to the Cannes Film Festival, where he will be possibly meeting with potential buyers for the A24 project alongside Benny, who wrote the script for The Smashing Machine as well. While a release date has not yet been announced, it is expected to arrive in 2025.

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