Arts & Entertainment
Some Hawaiians Are Wary of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Playing King Kamehameha
The King is described as Hawaii's Braveheart.
IMAGE Sony Pictures

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson announced on his Instagram that he would be playing King Kamehameha—the legendary founder and first ruler of the Kingdom Hawaii—in an upcoming film.

In the early 1800s, Kamehameha unified the warring Hawaiian islands and ensured that that trade with Europe and the United States would resume after his death.

"From the day I began my Hollywood career (2001), my dream was to bring this legacy to life," Johnson said on his Instagram, announcing that Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) would direct with a script from Randall Wallace (Braveheart). "In Polynesian culture we have a belief, that something isn’t done when it’s ready... it’s done when it’s right."

According to the Hollywood Reporter, The King "is described as a sweeping historical epic based on the true life story of Kamehameha, who fulfilled the prophecy that surrounded his fabled life since birth."

Though, some native Hawaiians are wary of Johnson—who is of Polynesian descent, but lived in Hawaii as a child—playing Kamehameha.

"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," Vicky Holt Takamine told Hawaii News Now.

Others, like Lilikala Kameeleihiwa—senior professor at the University of Hawaii’s Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies—said this casting choice reflects previous Hollywood efforts to appropriate the native history.

“Kamehameha is a grand chief of Hawaii and not some Hollywood Disney character,” she said. “It is totally inappropriate to have a non-Hawaiian actor play him. There must be a hundred descendants of Kamehameha who could play the part. If ever a film should be made (about Kamehameha), it should be written, in Hawaiian, by one of Kamehameha’s descendants. It’s their kuleana.”


After the news was announced, Johnson assured fans that, "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!”

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

View More Articles About:
About The Author
Matt Miller
Matt Miller is the Associate Culture Editor for
View Other Articles From Matt
Latest Feed
His best movie in a decade involves the actor, a homemade battle axe, and death metal-inspired grindcore.
When Restaurant Ode’s Yusuki Namai wanted to do a collaboration with a Filipino chef, he found the perfect match in chef Nicco Santos.
A closer look at the True Detective director's work bodes well for 007
A new book reveals how showering the actor with gifts won his friendship in one of the biggest fraud cases in U.S. history
The tech billionaire has hit a new low, being sued by the British diver he called a "child rapist". From Silicon Valley icon to daily meme-fodder, how has it come to this?
The World Ultra Wealth Report analyzed an exclusive group of ultra high net worth individuals across the world.
Students remember the injustice of martial law.
With an average pay of P9,757 per month in the Philippines, it’s no wonder Filipino nurses flock to American ERs.
Load More Articles