This may not be news for the specific subset of readers who are deeply plugged in to the stunt-double community—which, according to the laws of the internet, someone out there must be—but hopefully the rest of you will be as delighted as we were to discover that Tanoai Reed, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s stuntman of more than 15 years, is also Johnson’s distant cousin.
This news is detailed in an extended profile published today in Mel Magazine, where Reed recalls being chased down by a stunt coordinator at Universal Studios, where he had been working as a day laborer, and asked: “Dude, we’re doing this movie called The Scorpion King. The Rock’s in it. We need a stunt double. Can you come to the office real quick?” A white stuntman had been standing in for Johnson up until that point, until the laborious process of painting the man to match Johnson’s skin tone every day became too much for the production. Reed was hired on the spot.
Serendipitously enough, when the two met, they discovered through some on-set small talk that they were related through their great-grandfathers. (Or, at least, Johnson discovered it—Reed was already very aware of Johnson, who comes from a famous Samoan pro-wrestling clan, and their extended family connection.) They’ve been working together since, with Reed taking risks and sustaining injuries on behalf of his more famous cousin: Last year alone, he broke his wrist on the set of Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle and his heel on the set of Rampage.
Still, Reed credits his work as a stuntman with lifting him out of a troubled and transient adolescence, not to mention introducing him to his wife, who’s also a professional stunt double. And as Reed puts it, “DJ gives me credit more than any other actor gives his stunt man ... He’s always been like, ‘When it comes to the gnarly stuff, things where I can get hurt, my cousin Tanoai does it all.’ I’ll be reading a random article about a movie and bang — my name’s in there. He’s that kind of guy.”