Revealed: Aussie actor cast as The Rock
Australian actor Uli Latukefu has landed a dream role, playing Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in Brisbane-based NBC comedy series Young Rock.
The 37-year-old Sydney actor, who got his start on Australian Idol in 2004, will play the world's highest paid actor from the ages of 18 to 20, when he's recruited to play American football at the University of Miami.
The 11-part comedy, which is heading into production at Brisbane's Screen Queensland Studios this month, will follow Johnson's wild and unpredictable childhood and formative years growing up, culminating in a run for presidency.
Johnson announced the main cast in a series of Instagram posts overnight, describing his years in Miami as "some of my most defining".
"The highs are incredible, but the lows were critical. 275lbs of upper body violence, attitude and clearly eating too much pizza," he said.
Following Australian Idol, Latukefu - a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) - appeared in Chris Lilley's Jonah from Tonga, miniseries Devil's Playground, and Doctor Doctor as well as famed roles in Marco Polo and Alien: Covenant.
"So excited, proud and ready for some fun," Latukefu wrote to Instagram following the casting announcement.
"This ones for the dreamers. Trust, when God says He has plans for you, He really, really means it. Time for work."
The show, which will film in Brisbane for the next few months, is set to premiere in 2021, and will feature various actors playing Johnson at different early stages of his life, while the actor himself is understood to appear as his older self.
Adrian Groulx will portray him at age 10 and Bradley Constant will play him during his high school years at age 15.
"We've only just started, but our entire cast and production team has already begun to feel like one big family," Constant said.
Stacey Leilua has been cast as his mother, Ata Johnson, and his late father Rocky Johnson will be played by Joseph Lee Anderson.
Ana Tuisila will play his grandmother Lia Maivia, who was pro wrestling's first women's promoter.
Young Rock was secured for Queensland as part of a $19.5 million Australian Government deal with NBCUniversal's Universal Studio Group, which will see three series film in Brisbane back-to-back over the next 18 months.
Taking over from Young Rock in early 2021 will be Joe Exotic starring Kate McKinnon, followed by an Australian drama series Irreverent.
Australia's Matchbox Pictures will produce all three series for three NBCU entertainment platforms - broadcast network NBC, streaming service Peacock, and basic cable network, USA.
Originally published as Revealed: Aussie actor cast as The Rock