Dwayne Johnson has found himself in hot water over casting himself as the black folk hero John Henry.
Johnson announced the news of his new movie project yesterday, which will tell the story of the famed railroad engineer who was said to have worked himself to death.
Though Johnson described Henry as one of his ‘childhood heroes’, there have been questions about whether he’s the most appropriate actor for the job.
Henry, the ‘steel-driving man’, whose heart gave out while hammering steel piles into rock to build the railroads of Virginia, was depicted as a dark-skinned African American.
The Rock, meanwhile, is from Black Canadian and Polynesian heritage.
And as usual, Twitter has been swift with its judgement.
The Rock is black when it's profitable and racially ambiguous when it isn't. We need a proud, strong, all-day black man to play John Henry.
— Rising Pupil (@risingpupil) October 9, 2018
H*ll freaking no. John Henry is a large muscular dark skinned black man and his love is a black woman. Terry Crews? Michael Jai White? Winston Duke…They need to stop the madness before it even begins. Woe betide them if they put him in a tanning bed and add makeup.😒 https://t.co/q8uDJAiDYq
— Mage of Micturition and 👸🏾of Free Flow (@catjacarol01) October 9, 2018
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.
— Anathema BYOD (@CharlesPulliam) October 9, 2018
Friend on John Henry casting:
Is terry crews ill?
Did Winston Duke break something?
Is Common's agent taking a nap?
Is Denzel's son out of the country?
Did Idris Elba fall into a coma?
Has Kofi Siriboe eaten some bad clams?
Did Aldis Hodge buy nonrefundable concert tickets?
— Showtime Synergy! (Shani, The 5th Hologram) (@BlerdMommy) October 9, 2018
Nope. He's great, but he's definitely not John Henry. This is a wonderful time for someone new to break in. John Henry was dark skinned & young https://t.co/szYkQin59w
— ❄Mikki Kendall❄ (@Karnythia) October 9, 2018
The movie, called John Henry and the Statesmen, is being made for Netflix (via The Rock’s own Seven Bucks production company), with his Jumanji collaborator Jake Kasdan also on board to direct.