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
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!”