So far, 2015 has been a very good year for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and may only get better. He was a highlight of the hugely successful Furious 7, he’s headlining the upcoming tentpole disaster flick San Andreas, and in June we’ll see The Rock on the small screen in HBO’s half-hour football series based on his own concept, Ballers.
Not to be confused with the Kevin Hart/LeBron James basketball comedy, Johnson plays former Miami football player Spencer Strassmore, retired from the NFL and now a financial manager for other fellow ex-football players. Johnson’s co-stars include Rod Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine 2), Donovan Carter, Troy Garity, John David Washington and Peter Berg, who is an executive producer on the show along with Johnson and Mark Wahlberg. Watch the first trailer above.
This look at Ballers invites immediate comparisons to co-executive producer Wahlberg’s other HBO show, Entourage: cars, boats, money, girls and all the escapist problems that come with such high profile success. Only this time, we’re dealing with former and current professional athletes in Miami rather than privileged Hollywood power players.
Johnson’s swaggering charisma – used to great effect in his supporting role in the past few Fast & Furious movies – is on full display here, but shaded with something more interesting: an actual character to play. The trailer is vague when it comes to the show’s overall plot, but we’re given glimpses of Spencer Strassmore’s inner life. He misses hitting people on the field for a living and doesn’t seem happy. The opportunity to watch The Rock develop a character in a long-form narrative is one of the clear draws of Ballers.
One question is just how much – or how little – Ballers will hone in on the harsh realities of what happens to professional football players after they leave the game. Many post-NFL careers are rife with serious health issues, bankruptcy, and the lingering bitterness of broken dreams. Ballers looks likes it’ll stay on the sunnier side of this world – which is to be expected – but look for some honest moments as Johnson’s character confronts his past and present.
Ballers premieres Sunday June 21st, 2015 @10pm on HBO.