'It's like I found my brother': Residents describe emotional meetings with 'The Rock'
FARMINGTON — Filming on the latest installment in the "Jumanji" franchise has ended, but two residents will not forget their encounters with actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Johnson, along with actors Kevin Hart and Jack Black, spent last week filming scenes near the Shiprock pinnacle. They also took to social media to share images from the set and of their encounters with community members.
Farmington resident Leonard Castillo met Johnson on April 26 as the actor left Defined Fitness in Farmington.
Castillo described the encounter as emotional because his mother, Arlene Castillo, who died in 2008, was a huge fan of Johnson and followed his career from professional wrestling to acting.
Castillo said his mother nicknamed him "The Rock" because he resembles the actor in appearance and his personality reminded her of the actor.
"She'd say, 'Son, that's you.' From then on, I got stuck with that," Castillo said adding the nickname continues to be used by family, friends and coworkers.
At first, he ignored the comparison but after watching the 2003 movie, "The Rundown," he understood his mother's point of view.
But Castillo never thought that Farmington would be the place to meet and share his mother's story with Johnson, who shared the moment on his Instagram account.
"When I met him, it's like I found my brother. That's why I hugged him and when he said sorry for the loss of your mom, it was so comforting," Castillo said.
Farmington resident Jordan Eddleman's meeting with Johnson has also been shared on the actor's Instagram account.
The footage shows Johnson commending Eddleman's work as a Farmington Fire Department firefighter as well as Johnson giving Eddleman the wireless headphones he was wearing.
Eddleman said the gift was a surprise and he will be sending Johnson an official fire department uniform T-shirt and one of the department's challenge coins.
"I wore them one time for a workout. People could care less about talking to me, they want to see the headphones," he said with a chuckle.
Prior to the exchange outside of Defined Fitness, Eddleman and Johnson worked out together for about 20 minutes.
"We talked. I didn't treat him like a celebrity. I didn’t treat him like anything else but a human being. I didn't hound him for pictures. I didn't talk about movies. We just talked about us," Eddleman said.
The social media post has garnered attention online and within the community for Eddleman.
"It's been such a humbling experience," he said adding he is using the attention to spread messages of encouragement and positivity.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer were among the tribal officials who met Johnson.
In a New Mexico State Film Office press release, Nez expressed appreciation to the production team and cast for filming on the Navajo Nation.
"This partnership with Sony Pictures allowed the Navajo Nation to internationally display its beautiful landscape and unique culture on a major produced film. It also allowed the Navajo Nation to look forward to many more production opportunities," he said.
The release states the production prepped for a month in the region prior to its principal photography.
Filming finished recently. The movie is scheduled for release in December, according to the press release.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.