Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is currently under fire for being cast to play the role of a dark-skinned folk hero in his upcoming Netflix film.
Johnson who’s biracial, announced on Tuesday, he’ll be starring in the movie “John Henry and the Statesmen” which he will also be producing. The film is centered around a Black folklore legend who worked as a steel-driver in 1870 who raced against a steam machine and died. The former WWE wrestler explained in a caption why the project is very special to him.
“Inspired to bring to life one of my childhood heroes,” Johnson wrote. “In this movie, I’ll lead an ensemble of the most popular folklore figures and legends from different cultures around the world. The legend of JOHN HENRY’S strength, endurance, dignity and cultural pride was instilled in my DNA at a very young age. … My dad would sing ‘Big John’ to me every time he would put me to bed.”
However, the character of John Henry is usually depicted as a dark-skinned Black man, so Johnson’s revelation to play the role sparked outrage among people who disagreed with the casting. The Fast & Furious star is biracial with a Black father and a Samoan mother.
Twitter users were extremely upset over Johnson’s casting.
One person commented, “Historically, John Henry’s always been depicted as having a *very* dark skin complexion and while Dwayne Johnson is undeniably a black man, this is all quite 🧐🧐🧐. I’m legitimately curious who the target audience for this movie is meant to be.”
A second social media user wrote, “The dark skinned John Henry of Black folklore? (A double jab) Yeah that’s a no.”
A third added, “*Pause* Please tell me the Rock is NOT playing my Dark-Skinned John Henry. Because that would be a problem.”
Johnson just wrapped up the film “Disney’s Jungle Cruise” and will soon start production on “Jumanji 2”.
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WHEN THE MAN COMES AROUND. Inspired to bring to life one of my childhood heroes, John Henry, in JOHN HENRY & THE STATESMEN. In this movie, I’ll lead an ensemble of the most popular folklore figures and legends from different cultures around the world. @NETFLIX is the perfect partner & platform to bring these global folklore icons to life. The NETFLIX brand speaks directly to our @sevenbucksprod ethos of being bold, ambitious and game changing – and most importantly, always thinking “Audience first” in homes all around the world. The legend of JOHN HENRY’S strength, endurance, dignity and cultural pride was instilled in my DNA at a very young age. My dad would sing “Big John” to me every time he would put me to bed. At bedtime most children get loving nursery rhyme songs — I got this/ Every mornin’ at the mine, you could see him arrive. He stood 6 foot 6 and weighed 245. Kind of broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip. And everybody knew you didn’t give no lip to Big John. Big John. Big Bad John. Directing this big ol’ tentpole is the talented and passionate, Jake Kasdan. Jake and I found nice success together in a little movie called, JUMANJI. Gonna be a lot of fun bringing these legends to life. My childhood hero. The steel driving man and his disruptive band of international folklore legends. JOHN HENRY & THE STATESMEN @sevenbucksprod @danygarciaco @hhgarcia41 @flynnpictureco @NETFLIX