It was only a matter of time before Disney’s live-action films based on classic animated features and the seemingly omnipresent Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson converged, and that’s exactly what happened during last weekend’s Saturday Night Live … with hilarious results, of course.
The veteran tough-guy actor hosted Saturday’s episode of SNL while promoting Furious 7, the latest installment of the franchise that — as with so many other series in recent years — he played a significant role in reinvigorating. And in one particularly memorable skit, Johnson donned a wig, a furry vest, and a pair of deer ears to play the title role in Bambi, offering an action-packed, edgy spin on the classic Disney story of an orphaned deer and the woodland creatures that befriend him.
SNL’s faux trailer shows a young Bambi vowing to avenge the death of his mother by gathering a crew of forest animals to assist him in a bloodthirsty quest. It’s payback time as the team next lays siege to a hunting club, spewing bullets and one-liners like “Deer Crossing, Mother Fucker!”
Part of the skit’s magic is that it recasts the stars of Furious 7 as live-action, gun-toting versions of characters from the original 1942 animated feature, including Vin Diesel (as played by Taran Killam) in the role of Thumper the rabbit, Tyrese Gibson (as played by Jay Pharoah) in as Flower the skunk, and Michelle Rodriguez (played by Cecily Strong) as Faline the doe.
While Johnson’s role in Bambi is fictional (so far), the actor does have a knack for turning failing projects into cash cows for studios. The G.I. Joe: Retaliation and The Mummy Returns actor opened the show with a musical number that played on his reputation as “franchise Viagra” in Hollywood circles, and that included an offer to paint himself blue for the Avatar sequel, play multiple roles in Batman movies, or even appear in the follow-up to Frozen.
You can watch his Bambi skit at the top of this post, and the aforementioned musical number below: