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Young Rock Creator Is WWE President Nick Khan’s Sister, Talks Working With Rock on Sitcom’s Scripts

February 16, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Young Rock

NBC’s Young Rock sitcom premiered tonight from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Fresh of the Boat’s Nahnatchka Khan, who noted in a recent interview that she’s the sister of WWE President Nick Khan. Khan spoke with Variety about working with Johnson for the series, and you can check out highlights below:

On working with Johnson on the scripts: “We had a bunch of what we like to call “storytelling sessions” at the very beginning, and Dwayne would just tell us different stories about his life. It really helped us identify the seminal moments in his life that shaped him and the different, maybe surprising perspectives that the audience wouldn’t actually know, since he’s one of the most famous people on the planet. We tried to answer how to tell a story about someone that you can’t just Google and find out. He was amazing and open and super collaborative.”

On whether Johnson was involved in any casting decisions: “Our amazing casting directors, Anya Colloff, Amanda Mitchell and Michael V. Nicolo, headed up a global search for these roles. We had been following a roadmap of Dwayne’s life, his family and where he came from. It was a tall order, and we wanted to get it right and we wanted Dwayne to feel great about all of it, so we got him and his team at Seven Bucks Productions involved. I’m so proud of the cast we assembled; having to cast three young Dwayne’s was in and of itself really challenging. I think it will make the authenticity of his experience come through.”

On how they choice the particular stages in Johnson’s life: “We’re starting with 2032 because we were looking for a framework that felt organic and that could bring in multiple timelines. It made sense to me that if Dwayne was looking back on his life this way, then we can also look forward, which is where the future timeline came in. We’re able to give him an interesting arc for the future. I sat down with [executive producer and writer] Jeff Chiang with all of these notes, and we looked through them and started to identify three moments as a great starting place to introduce people to Dwayne’s world. When he’s 10-years-old he’s living in Hawaii in 1982 with his immediate family and also the wrestlers that kind of became his extended family, and the way he was shaped at a young age. Then, we jump ahead to 15 when he’s in Bethlehem, Pa. He has a lot of stories about how money was really tight for them and his dad couldn’t get work easily. I think a lot of people can relate to that struggle, and I wanted to tell stories from that era of Dwayne’s life because, again, we know that he ends up OK and he overcomes these hardships. And, then, the University of Miami period to me was also really interesting because this is where he thinks he’s found this path and he thinks his future is the NFL. He’s recruited right out of high school to go to this super high-profile football school. He thinks this is how he is going to change his life and support his family, and then his dream gets deferred a little bit. We see how he responds to that and why he obviously didn’t end up going down that road even if in that timeline, he believes that is what his future is. And then we just put it all together.”

On if she know of Johnson’s wrestling career: “I was definitely a fan of his acting career. I watched wrestling when I was a kid with my whole family. That mid-’80s wrestling era is very nostalgic for me. You know, this is so random but my brother [Nick Khan] was a huge wrestling fan and he sort of spearheaded the viewing in our house, and now he’s the president of the WWE and works with the CEO Vince McMahon. Anyway, it was such a big part of my experience growing up. My whole family is from Iran, so the Iron Sheik [Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri] was a big hero in our house, even if his ring persona was a villain. He was the only person on television that we ever saw that had our accent, and that looked like us. On Saturdays, my grandmother and my aunts and my uncles would all come over to watch the matches my brother would tape. Creating this transported me back to that time, and it was a visceral feeling for me.”