From seeing his move from Hawaii, his football career pretty much collapsing for good and the introduction of Dany Garcia, the show keeps up the pace with its first season by filling out Johnson’s life with all the backstories to go along with it.
Shadow and Act recently spoke with stars including Joseph Lee Anderson and Stacey Leilua (Rocky and Ata Johnson) and Adrian Groulx, Bradley Constant and Uli Latukefu (Johnson’s child, teen and young adult incarnations), who talked about the new season and continuing to craft this story on screen.
“[In] the first season, there were the nerves of really kind of feeling out the character and kind of getting comfortable,” said Constant, teasing the major differences from his feelings from the freshman and sophomore runs. “And I really did and it was such a great first season. [I was] really excited to come back. When I came back, I remember flying over [and] I’m like, ‘I’m not even nervous, man. [laughs] Like, I already know how to do this. We’ve done this already.’ And there were a lot more challenges this season than I anticipated. I think that also really coincided with what my character was going through…constantly being uncomfortable and being on the move and things like that…and how that messes with his mindset, especially being 15 years old. So this year, I think I miss being home a little bit more while filming away. And that’s a big thing for Dwayne in my era. He’s just left Hawaii staying in Nashville..and [being in] a new place and [trying to be] comfortable. I was kind of channeling that feeling this year, which was a lot more present than it was last year.”
Agreeing with Constant, Groulx added, “This season coming back, I was a little bit more comfortable being away from home and not seeing my dad and my sister. I wanted to come at the season with my scenes and everything else with a little bit more excitement and maybe even a little bit more confidence in how I was performing.”
“It kind of always nice to revisit something or at least get a second crack at it…where you’re familiar with the characters,” said Latukefu. “But I’m always nervous to be honest with you, man. I like I feel like everything every project that I do just offers new challenges, and this season was no different. You definitely feel comfortable and confident in the choices that you’ve made previously, so you know they work but it’s a brand new storyline, there’s so many variables. So I feel like a healthy level of nerves. I’m not like Bradley…Bradley is beyond chill [laughs]. I expect a lot from what I intend to deliver.”
While the show takes some creative liberties (Johnson is running for president in this fictional version, of course), it is still the cast’s duty to bring humanity and reality to these larger-than-life portrayals.
“For me, I take all I know about Rocky, but then I might give them a little bit of my dad or I might give a little bit of my uncle,” said Anderson. “I find everyday things to make this all work. Because at the end of the day is a comedy and you know, funny wins, but you still want to stay true to the person and the person’s family that you’re portraying.”
Leilua added, “I think that’s the same with me. I think about my Samoan grandmother. My grandfather was a boxer and he traveled a lot…the sort of fame and that sort of thing. And it was my grandma holding it down at home. So I think about those kinds of things, I think about the conversations that I’ve had with Ata [Johnson, Dwayne’s real-life mother], but the other thing to mention was this time around we’ve kind of established those relationships as actors with each other in the way that work and being able to relate to the boys as well as our sons and Ana, who plays Lia. Like all those things kind of made it easier in a way this time around because you’ve already sort of established something and you’ve seen it play out on screen and go, ‘Yeah, that’s the kind of dynamic.’ So it is a real big kind of melting pot of all those types of things.”
Young Rock airs Tuesday nights on NBC.