Though he started out as an athlete in Tuscaloosa, Bradley Constant came up with another dream when a shoulder injury sidelined him in middle school.
“I was obsessed with the Disney Channel,” he says with a laugh. “I watched it all the time and I said, ‘I want to do this,’ and I started taking classes in Birmingham every single weekend.”
Those lessons with Cathi Larsen have paid off … in a big way. Constant has landed one of the title roles in the new NBC show “Young Rock.” In the series, which premieres Feb. 16 at 7 p.m., Constant, along with two other actors, plays wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at an early age. Constant, who is 22, plays him at 15.
The role is Constant’s first big Hollywood gig, the culmination, so far, of a career that has been fairly methodical if a bit nomadic. Constant’s Birmingham acting classes led to classes in New York, and he and his mother, Julie, eventually moved there when he was 14.
“We got a rental car, packed what we could in it and moved to New York,” he recalls. “We stayed in an attic, and I slept 2 feet away from my mom for months. Eventually, we got a place in Midtown, and I started taking classes there.”
Four years later, Constant’s manager urged him to move to Los Angeles, and Constant asked his mother to make a big move again. “As awesome as my mom is, she said yes,” he says. “We only took what we could fit in a suitcase.”
That was four years ago, and the trek has had “ups and downs, lots of no’s, lots of classes, lots of growth, lots of cool commercials,” Constant says.
And finally, in January 2020, Constant’s big break came in the form of an audition for “Young Rock.”
“An audition for a show about the life of Dwayne Johnson,” Constant recalls thinking. “This is perfect! I don’t think we had ever found a role that seemed more fitting than this role. I booked it, and then March comes around. COVID hit, and things shut down.”
It didn’t shut down for long. “Young Rock” took its production on the road to Brisbane, Australia, and in a safe, COVID-19-free environment, six episodes of the series were filmed.
In the show, Johnson stars as himself, and the Rock is running for president in 2032. As he campaigns and he’s asked about his childhood, the show flashes back to his youth at different ages – Constant playing him at 15 and two other actors playing him at ages 10 and 18-20.
“It kind of pops back and forth,” Constant says.
Though he doesn’t have any scenes with the adult Johnson, the Rock was often on the set working with the younger actors.
“It was weird,” Constant says. “Me and my dad used to watch wrestling all the time, and the Rock was on there and one of my favorites. We had all of the wrestling action figures, so it was weird thinking I used to play with his doll.”
The role, though, was a perfect one for Constant.
“I didn’t have to stretch too much to play the character,” he says. “Reading the lines sounded so fluid to me.”
Constant said the younger characters on “Young Rock” are “very relatable.”
“It felt like I could just slip into it,” says Constant, who went to Bryant High School in Tuscaloosa. “I’m not necessarily playing the guy on TV that everyone knows. This is him as a teenager, and no one knows what he was like as a teenager. There’s a lot of reality and relatable situations that normal people can relate to. He wasn’t always this big famous person with lots of money and no issues. Things his family was dealing with is stuff a lot of people everywhere can relate to.”
Constant still lives with his mother in Los Angeles, and about this time last year, she put the sacrifices her son has made into perspective for him.
“I graduated from high school in 2016,” says Constant, whose father, William, grandparents and other family live in Tuscaloosa (Marvin Constant, who played football for the Crimson Tide, is a cousin). “Last year, my friends were graduating from college, and I booked this series. She said, ‘This is your graduation present.’”
Constant is hoping there will be more of “Young Rock,” but he’s ready for anything that comes his way.
“My goal in this career is to enjoy every bit and see where it takes me,” he says. “My dream has definitely shifted from wanting to be on the Disney Channel. I’ve fallen in love with acting in general. My goal is a lot broader now. I don’t have huge expectations. I just want to work hard and see what happens.”