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Why The Actor Who Plays Andre The Giant In Young Rock Looks Familiar

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As the latest addition to NBC's ever-expanding library of sitcoms, Young Rock has already taken the television world by storm.

In case you haven't seen it, the story of Young Rock goes like this: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is running for president, but wants to better connect with the people in hopes of securing their vote. To do so, he joins WandaVision's own Randall Park to shed some light on the man behind the myth — telling crazy stories from his childhood, sharing life lessons that got him through hard times, and showing there's more to him than meets the eye.

With one episode released so far, there's no denying the former Scorpion King actor went through quite an unorthodox upbringing.

The Rock's developmental years proved rather unconventional.

His father, the late "Soul Man" Rocky Johnson, made ends meet by working as a professional wrestler and, as a consequence, kept his family on the road most of the year.

As a byproduct of that lifestyle, the young Dwayne Johnson, aka Dewey, spent a lot of time around his dad's coworkers, including the likes of the Iron Sheik, Junkyard Dog, and "The Eighth Wonder of the World" himself: Andre the Giant.

Casting such a larger-than-life character for Young Rock surely wasn't easy, but Matthew Willig ultimately landed the role. Here's where else you may recognize the massive actor from.

Born and raised in La Mirada, California, Matthew Willig grew up playing sports, particularly basketball and football. He carried this interest into his college years, where he played football at the University of Southern California, playing a role on the winning team of the 1989 Rose Bowl.

This success didn't go unnoticed, inevitably leading to Willig joining the National Football League in 1993 as an offensive tackle for the New York Jets.

He played with the Jets until 1995, when he was scooped by the Atlanta Falcons who kept him around for two seasons. Afterwards, he signed with the Green Bay Packers in 1998, followed by the St. Louis Rams in 1999. He didn’t actually see any playing time that season but his team did get the victory at Super Bowl XXXIV - earning himself a Super Bowl Ring.

As the 2000s began, Willig found himself on the roster of the San Francisco 49ers. He stayed with the team until 2002 when he jumped to the Carolina Panthers, the team that sent him back to the Super Bowl for the 38th Big Game.

He wrapped up his NFL career after the 2005 season, once again as a member of the St. Louis Rams. It's an epic career in a position that boasts an average lifespan of about three-and-a-half years in the pros, but even after retirement Willig was just getting started.

On the football field, being a six-foot eight-inch mountain of a man certainly has its benefits. When it comes to the bright lights of Hollywood, however, it also provides a kind of niche. Willig's big-screen tenure kicked off in 1993 in action movie Full Contact, playing the aptly-named character of Hulk.

Years later, after his NFL career had run its course, Willig popped up in the 2006 sports comedy The Benchwarmers as an unnamed jock, establishing a trend of taking minor roles that play to his unique frame.

Willig put this asset to use for comedy's sake in 2009 for the prehistoric Jack Black and Michael Cera project Year One, portraying the burly Marlak, a proficient hunter who's more than capable of manhandling Jack Black's character.

His next most high-profile gig arrived in 2013, once again working in the comedic realm for We're the Millers, acting as a menacing drug dealer alongside Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston.

In 2015, he tried his hand at a more dramatic fare, appearing as deceased football star Justin Strzelczyk in the biographical sports drama Concussion.

Three years later, he teamed up with the Coen brothers for a small part in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, striking an intimidating posture in a role credited as "Cantina Scum."

His most recent cinematic works include a role in heavy metal icon Rob Zombie's 2019 horror film, 3 From Hell, followed by a small part in 2020's Birds of Prey. Of course, these examples are only a small portion of his entire filmography, which also includes lesser-known releases like short films and direct-to-video movies. Even in those smaller projects, he obviously has a tendency to stand out.

2006 marked the beginning of his television work. That year he made one-off appearances on Malcolm in the Middle, The West Wing, and Everybody Hates Chris. The next year, he appeared in two episodes of Dexter, and he also made appearances on NCIS and The Young and the Restless.

#YoungRock #DwayneJohnson #TheRock

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