Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has long emphasized how much playing Maui in the Disney film “Moana” meant to him as a way to represent his culture, but now fans know for certain that the role represents more than just his regional heritage.
A fan tweeted a side-by-side look on Monday at Maui alongside Johnson’s “literal actual grandfather,” High Chief Peter Maivia. And the resemblance is striking.
— Anthony Oliveira (@meakoopa) October 3, 2017
Johnson replied, disclosing that the resemblance was achieved on purpose.
“A lil’ Disney gem of a secret,” he wrote. “My character Maui was partly inspired by my late grandfather.” The tweet went viral.
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) October 3, 2017
Maivia was famous in his own right, paving the way for Johnson’s later successes in wrestling and in Hollywood.
Maivia began wrestling in New Zealand in the 1960s but soon moved to the US, according to the WWE website, winning multiple championships on the West Coast. He eventually started wrestling for the WWE in the late 1970s where he formed rivalries with multiple wrestlers.
He was also a sporadic actor, appearing as a henchman in the James Bond film “You Only Live Twice.”
Rocky Johnson, another wrestler, later married Maivia’s daughter. He famously disapproved of the union.
Maivia, however, was diagnosed with cancer in 1981 and died in 1982. The Rock posthumously inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Johnson had previously talked about his grandfather’s influence on “Moana.” In a 2016 interview, Johnson said that while the character was based on him, it also looked like his late grandfather. “He looked like that,” Johnson said. “He was a Samoan high chief who had high chief tattoos all over his body.”