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The Rock shows up for Gainesville fans
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Film production trucks line Perry Street on Monday, June 5, 2017, as a production company begins filming at the Brenau University library in Gainesville. - photo by SCOTT ROGERS

Suzanne Griffin has a story to tell her 5-month-old-daughter, Elizabeth, when she grows up.

Griffin bundled Elizabeth in a baby carrier, protecting her from the sun and then from drenching rain, as they stood with a group of onlookers hoping to meet action movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Griffin was one of about a dozen gawkers who braved the weather late Monday afternoon at Prior Street near Brenau University, where the muscular leading man has been shooting scenes for his new movie — “Rampage.”

The 38-year-old mom said she’s been a fan since Johnson’s wrestling days in the WWE.

“I like him because he’s so versatile,” said Griffin, an employee of Recro Pharma in Gainesville. “He’s been a star in children’s films too.”

What else drew Griffin to the set?

“I won’t state the obvious,” she said. “His looks.”

There were other diehards at the set.

Brothers Tim and Mike Worthy of Orlando, Fla., drove more than seven hours with family.

“We got a tip from a friend who works at TMZ that The Rock would be filming in Gainesville,” Tim Worthy said. “From here we’re going to Roswell where Robert de Niro is filming ‘War with Grandpa.’”

The brothers are big fans of Johnson, but they’re also fanatic about using vacation time to hunt for autographs and selfies with celebrities.

“We have seven rooms full of memorabilia,” Mike Worthy said.

Gainesville residents Samantha Martin and Chris Green live one street over from where the filming was taking place.

They had been “watching all the cars passing on our street for over a week now,” Martin said.

Mercedes Mitchell, a 17-year-old student at North Hall High School, said she was visiting friends in the area when she heard Johnson was filming.

Solomon Cantrell, 19, said he lives nearby and decided to hang out.

“We’ve been here for about an hour,” Cantrell said. “We haven’t seen him yet.”

Griffin said she was prepared to wait out for the actor.

“I’m going to stick around until they run me off,” she said.

Griffin’s perseverance paid off. Johnson eventually stepped out and took time to sign autographs. By then the crowd had swelled to about 40 people, according to security personnel.

Chris Green and his children snagged a photo.

“He's a really nice guy,” his fiancee Martin said.  

Brenau University nursing students Alexis Love, Martis Ferguson and Ken Freeman got lucky, too.

“We heard that he was filming on campus and saw all of the movie trailers and were curious,” Love said. “We kept trying to see if we can see him and maybe get his attention, but we saw no sign of him.”

After studying in the library, the group noticed the crowd.

“I wanted to go check things out, and sure enough he was leaving the set and he allowed for autographs and pictures,” she said. “He seemed like a real genuine, nice and down-to-earth guy.”

“Rampage” stars Johnson as a primatologist who “shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent, silverback gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry transforms this gentle ape into a raging monster,” according to a Warner Brothers press release. The movie is set for an April 20 release.

The 45-year-old actor has been in Gainesville since last week. He is scheduled to depart the area Tuesday, according to his security detail.

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