Trevor Noah’s first podcast guest is … Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
What Now? with Trevor Noah is the latest entry in the comedian’s dizzying portfolio, and he’s been keeping his guest roster under wraps until the weekly pod began rolling out. For those who’ll see The Rock listed and assume What Now? is poised to be just another outlet for A-list celebrities, Noah is quick to dispel that notion. “No, we’re going to have A-list conversations,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
Going forward, the Spotify podcast will feature all different types of guests, some considerably more famous than others. As Noah describes it, he’s as interested in booking scientists and CEOs as he is politicians and athletes — so long as they’re interesting and, perhaps even more important, timely. In fact, he’s committed to taping these interviews as close to release as possible to ensure the latter.
When Noah does have A-list stars on the show, he insists he won’t be focused on their next project, whatever it may be. Instead, he sees his new platform as a space where he can speak to his subjects for an extended period and, maybe, actually, get to know them. It’s the kind of thing that hosts say often as they launch new shows, but you get the sense that Noah genuinely believes it.
“Hopefully, you can get a deeper understanding of how they see the world,” he says, “and maybe even talk about how they feel about how the world sees them.”
In the case of The Rock, specifically, Noah was eager to explore much, much more than his IMDB profile. The wide-ranging interview, which is available both in video form (only on Spotify) and audio (Spotify and everywhere else), covers everything from the actor’s troubled youth and lifelong struggles with depression, to him trying to process and make sense of the blowback to him launching his fund following the Maui fires.
“It’s fascinating to speak to the person who was trying to raise money for the Maui wildfires and then experienced the backlash he did in a way that some people completely understood and other people completely didn’t,” says Noah. “What is that like from the inside? How does the person process that information? What do they think about it? And then talking about his life and who he is, like, what made Dwayne Johnson the person he is today?”
Already, the booking process has proved considerably easier than it was when Noah launched his iteration of The Daily Show in September, 2015. At that time, Kevin Hart agreed to be his first guest, which was a somewhat risky move given that Noah was both an unknown quantity to U.S. viewers and at the center of controversy after some ill-advised tweets resurfaced. “Nobody wanted to touch me with a 10-foot pole,” Noah told THR last year as he was signing off at The Daily Show, “but Kevin was like, ‘I love comedians, let’s do this,’ and I’m eternally grateful to him for that.”