Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced on Instagram on Wednesday that he was cast as King Kamehameha — the celebrated founder and ruler of the Hawaiian Kingdom — in the upcoming movie “The King.” King Kamehameha united the Hawaiian Islands under one royal kingdom in 1810 following years of war and conflict.
“From the day I began my Hollywood career (2001), my dream was to bring this legacy to life,” Johnson said in an Instagram post. “In Polynesian culture we have a belief, that something isn’t done when it’s ready… it’s done when it’s right.”
Directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”) and written by Randall Wallace (“Braveheart”), “The King” is a “sweeping historical epic based on the true life story of Kamehameha, who fulfilled the prophecy that surrounded his fabled life since birth,”
the Hollywood Reporter
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However, some native Hawaiians are worried about cultural appropriation.
“Kamehameha is a grand chief of Hawaii and not some Hollywood Disney character,”
Lilikala Kameeleihiwa, senior professor at the University of Hawaii’s Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, told the Star-Advertiser
. “It is totally inappropriate to have a non-Hawaiian actor play him. There must be a hundred descendents of Kamehameha who could play the part.”
Others like Vicky Holt Takamine love Johnson — who is Polynesian, but grew up in Hawaii — are concerned that the film will ruin the legacy of the legendary king.
“I love Dwayne Johnson and some of his films, but he’s such a comedian. I hope this is not going to be a comedy and the character is not a comic character,” Takamine told Hawaii News Now.
After breaking the news to his followers and fans, Johnson said, “The response to our King Kamehameha announcement has been incredible worldwide. A true privilege and dream for me to bring King Kamehameha’s legacy to life on the silver screen. The cultural and historical significance of this role, I hold with the highest respect and reverence; and, I’m honored to share the epic story of our people and culture with the world. Imua!”