Jeffrey Walker is the set-up director for Young Rock, the NBC-commissioned comedy which will star Uli Latukefu as the young adult Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
Filming of the 11-part series created and co-written by Fierce Baby Productions’ Nahnatchka Khan starts in Queensland later this month, the first of three NBCUniversal productions to shoot back-to-back in the state over the next 18 months.
The series chronicles the Jumanji: The Next Level star and former professional wrestler’s high school years in Honolulu before he and his family moved to Nashville, where he was arrested multiple times for fighting, theft and cheque fraud before the age of 17.
Adrian Groulx plays Johnson when he was an honest, headstrong and impressionable 10-year-old. Bradley Constant is the 15-year-old, when his size and full moustache convinced his classmates he was an undercover cop.
Aussie Latukefu (Alien: Covenant, Marco Polo) will play him aged 18-20 when he was recruited to play football at the University of Miami and a devastating injury during his freshman year put his life at a crossroads.
Stacey Leilua has been cast as Johnson’s mother Ata Johnson, a positive force in his life, with Joseph Lee Anderson as her late husband Rocky Johnson, himself a pro-wrestling champion. Johnson will appear in each episode.
Khan, who created the US ABC network sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, which screens on 10 Peach, and Jeff Chiang wrote the pilot.
Latukefu recently wrapped Taika Waititi’s soccer comedy Next Goal Wins with Michael Fassbender and Elisabeth Moss. Of Tongan descent, the NIDA graduate’s credits include the upcoming Foxtel series The End, JJ Winlove’s feature June Again, Harrow and Doctor Doctor.
Walker, who will also serve as a co-executive producer, is nominated in two categories in this year’s Australian Directors’ Guild Awards: Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Drama Series for The Commons – episode 1, and Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Mini-Series for Lambs of God episode one.
His credits include all seven seasons of Modern Family, Hulu’s Difficult People, Riot and Ali’s Wedding.
The other directors and Australian supporting cast and key crew are expected to be announced in the next week or two.
After Young Rock wraps, Universal Content Productions will start on Joe Exotic, followed by Matchbox Pictures’ crime drama Irreverent, created by Paddy Macrae.