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Why A James Bond-Era Sean Connery Played Such A Key Role In 'Young Rock'

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson wasn't the first member of his family to break into the moviemaking business.

By Caitlin Busch
Split image of The Rock and Sean Connery

From legendary wrestlers to the classic gentleman spy, NBC's "Young Rock" continues to introduce familiar faces every week.

The latest episode, "Once Upon a Time In...," focuses on WWE talent who came before Dwayne Johnson and harnessed their full potential to not only cement their wrestling legacies, but also impact the world beyond the ring. As the episode says, "We don't have to be just one thing." The list included wrestler and WWE creative consultant Pat Patterson (portrayed by Marshall Williams), in-ring and on-screen legend André the Giant (Jacob Warren), and Dwayne's own grandfather, "High Chief" Peter Maivia (Sam Puefua). While Pat and André's journeys are as fascinating as they come, the High Chief's storyline has proven a standout amongst viewers due to the inclusion of a young Sean Connery (played by Nick Rhys) on the set of 1967's "You Only Live Twice."

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Yes, it's true: The Rock wasn't the first member of his family to break into Hollywood. His grandfather was both an actor and served as the stunt fight coordinator for the fifth James Bond adventure.

"Young Rock" recreates Maivia's scene in which he plays a villainous driver who gets into a tussle with Bond. In the film, he's hit with a sofa, brandishes a katana, and is ultimately defeated when a statue is broken over his head. But the episode goes behind the scenes to show Maivia leaning into his wrestling roots — improvising in order to make the scene more interesting. While the director isn't impressed with Maivia's ideas, Sean Connery apparently was.

"I'm all ears, lad," Connery says. "All my fight scenes are the same: I use my secret shoe gun, kiss the broad, down a cocktail."

Encouraged, Maivia explains: "Well, instead of running around the couch, maybe you pick it up, ram it into me, and I did a forward flip off of it?"

They run the scene again, and while the director is quick to give Connery all the credit for the improvements, Connery corrects him and the director offers Maivia the fight coordinator gig.

Later on, Connery — while lamenting he'd never break free of playing Bond as he and Maivia dream up his future post-Bond roles with prophetic clarity — gives credit where it's due once again.

"The way outsiders see my people, it's not always with kind eyes," Maivia says.

"Well, you and your brothers are so much more than that," Connery responds. "Look at the way you set up these fights! That takes a real vision and talent."

In a voiceover, Dwayne explains that after filming "You Only Live Twice," his grandfather was inspired to start laying the groundwork for something big. We cut to Maivia meeting with Pat Patterson and looking for his input on that "something big": Starting his own wrestling promotion in Hawaii with a roster of Polynesian wrestlers who "don't have to be just one thing." 

And that's a lesson Maivia passed down to his grandson, who has applied it to every aspect of his life and career. 

How will Dwayne Johnson continue to live his life to the fullest? Find out when the final episodes of Season 3 of "Young Rock" premiere on NBC on Fridays at 8:30 p.m. ET.

You can catch up on the latest "Young Rock" episodes on Peacock.

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