Shared Nova Scotian roots help actor break the ice with The Rock
Haligonian Eli Goree talks about working with one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood
Working with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson on a Hollywood set might have been intimidating for Halifax-born actor Eli Goree, except that he had a way to break the ice — with stories of their shared Nova Scotia heritage.
Dwayne Johnson, one of the highest-grossing actors of all time, according to Forbes magazine, has a family connection to Nova Scotia. His father, Rocky Johnson, was born in Amherst, N.S., in 1944 under the name Wayde Douglas Bowles.
He left the province as a teenager and went on to become a professional wrestler.
Goree, who acts alongside Johnson in the fourth season of an American television series called Ballers on HBO, told the CBC's Information Morning he made sure to mention their common roots at their first meeting.
"That was literally the first thing out of my mouth," Goree laughed, adding he thought it went over well.
"It was very cool for him to get to talk with me about that. He enjoyed it and I enjoyed it."
Goree said he and Johnson "got to talk quite a bit" about Nova Scotia, as well as the business and art of acting, during their time together on set.
He said the megastar lived up to his expectations.
"He's the man," Goree said.
"He's such a professional. He's so humble, he's so gracious, he treats everybody on set the same. You never see any attitude."
In an Instagram post from 2016, Johnson shared a story about the moment his father decided to leave Nova Scotia, following an altercation with his mother's boyfriend.
The move left him homeless at the age of 13, Johnson writes.
In the new season of Ballers, Johnson plays a retired NFL player who mentors young players and is considering investing in an extreme sports venture. Goree plays a high school quarterback with a lot of potential.
Casting directors appear to see potential in the real life Goree as well.
He has already acted in movies like Race and Godzilla, as well as television shows Glow, The 100, and Far From Home. Goree said he's just been booked to play a lead role in the television series Second City, which is a spinoff of the show Suits.
"It's been a great year," he said.
The former Haligonian grew up on Creighton Street in Halifax, and in Lucasville. His first television role was on Sesame Park, and after that he hosted the CBC youth consumer show Street Cents.
Goree also hosted the Big Black Rap Show on the radio station CKDU at Dalhousie University.
With files from the CBC's Information Morning