Baptized In Chitlin Gravy: 10 Big, Swole, Gizzard-Fed Actors Who Could Play Skrong-Backed Hammer-Slanger John Henry

ABC/Rick Rowe

Best Picks To Play John Henry (That Aren’t The Rock)

In today’s Oh HELL NAWL news, Netflix announced that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would star in “John Henry and the Statesman” (and also produce alongside Jumanji director Jake Kasdan) in a genuinely befuddling development that sent Black Twitter into a TIZZY.

Now, to be fair, The Rock has the ideal build and charisma for the role but just doesn’t give us John Henry who was a big, brolic, Blackity Black slab of suspender-wearing, hammer-slangin, ashy-knuckled man’s man whose legend lived on for generations. So yes, his casting is a big deal that inspired us to pick our very own actors to play the beloved folk hero.

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Hit the flip for some Twitter chitter-chatter over The Rock’s casting and OUR choices to play skrong-backed hammer-slanger John Henry.

Now, for our picks of actors/ex-ballers PERFECT to play John Henry…

ABC/Rick Rowe

Winston Duke

Perfect height. Perfect build. Perfect voice. Imagine him giving a speech in front of the townsfolk about watching the white man’s steam locomotives from the mountains. He’s literally the perfect person to play John Henry.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Shannon Sharpe

He probably didn’t cross your mind as a potentially great John Henry but he embodies everything that is John Henry: A giant tree trunk of a man who eats grits with a mixing spoon from a large pot before slangin’ that hammer on them train tracks up yonder.

Xavier Collin/IPA/Splash News

Terry Crews

He’s a big, swole, ham hock of a man with proven acting chops and infectious charisma perfect for John Henry.

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    Michael Jai White

    Between his booming voice, hulking build and larger-than-life appeal (See: Black Dynamite), he would make a very entertaining John Henry.

    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

    Chadwick Boseman

    He’s played legendary Black icons Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, Di Bleck Pentha and would KILL IT as Black folklore legend John Henry (despite his lack of height and swoleness)

    Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

    Mike Colter

    He’s currently saving Harlem (and telling wayward youth to pull their pants up) as the bulletproof Luke Cage and miiiiight be a lil too corny to nail John Henry but his stature is ideal for the role.

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    Nate Parker

    We know he’s “canceled” and short-ish but you could argue that his look and perspective are perfect for John Henry.

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    Rampage Jackson

    He was enjoyable as Mr. T in the unappreciated “A-Team” movie and would bring the necessary toughness and grit to the role.

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    Shaquille O’Neal

    We only put Shaq on this list to remind you that his name was JOHN HENRY in “Steel” that seemed loosely (and terribly) based on the classic folk tale




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