Transport back in time to the year 2000. WWE was still called WWF, and fast becoming its biggest star was Dwayne Johnson, or as he was better known, The Rock. It was inevitable that his charm, charisma and acting chops would be tested in dramatic roles, and so The Rock beamed into the 15th episode of the sixth season of Star Trek: Voyager.
The plot saw ex-Borg crew member Seven of Nine kidnapped and forced to fight in an arena for entertainment. Her first opponent is a Pendari champion who looks good in silver spandex. Here’s what goes down:
In the hundreds of people Dwayne Johnson has battled with in film and TV over the years, Seven of Nine was the very first (leaving aside his exploits in the wrestling ring).
Seven of Nine actress Jeri Ryan, who reprises the role in Star Trek: Picard, remembers making the episode. Did she know who The Rock was at the time?
“No, I had no idea,” Ryan admits. “It was his first or maybe second acting job ever [The Rock’s only previous TV role was playing his father as a cameo in That ’70s Show].
“I didn’t know who he was. I didn’t watch wrestling. I wasn’t aware of his character of ‘The Rock’.
“So the first time I met him was a fight rehearsal and he came in and he was just a super sweet, unassuming gentle guy named Dwayne. We’re talking about our kids and he’s just lovely. We had a nice time working together.”
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After filming had finished for the day, it turned out that Johnson had left a present for his co-star, one that she found very confusing.
“When I got to my trailer he had left a signed picture in character as The Rock – and it said ‘The Rock smells what you’re cooking’. Like, what?! It’s the weirdest thing I’d ever seen somebody write.”
Luckily others on set could explain his famous catchphrase.
“The makeup guys in the prosthetic trailer were like, ‘Dude, it’s The Rock, that’s his thing! He smells what you’re cooking!'” she laughs.
“He was very sweet and lovely. And the few times over the years I’ve run into him since, he’s been just as lovely, just as sweet and just as down to earth. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
To read more from Jeri Ryan about how Seven of Nine has adapted in Star Trek: Picard do not even try to resist buying a future copy of The Big Issue.
Star Trek: Picard streams on Amazon Prime in the UK, new episodes on Fridays. Episode 5 is great!