This article has been updated to include The Rock's response to the Daily Star's "exclusive" interview and the outlet's subsequent deletion of the story.
Wrestler turned top-earning actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson slapped down claims by a British outlet that he criticized "generation snowflake" in defense of free speech.
After the Daily Star published what it billed as an "exclusive" interview with the superstar Friday in which it reported that he said "this generation are looking for a reason to be offended" and "putting us backwards" when it comes to free speech, Johnson posted on Instagram that the interview "never happened."
"Settin’ the record straight," he wrote. "The interview never happened. Never said those words. 100% false. If I ever had an issue with someone, a group, community or a generation — I’d seek them out, create dialogue and do my best to understand them. Criticizing ain’t my style. I don’t cast stones and we all get to be who we are."
By Saturday morning, the Daily Star had pulled its "exclusive." In its place is the generic message:
You can’t win them all! The page you are looking for can’t be found, why not take a look at some of the other great sections on the Daily Star website:
In the since-deleted viral story, the Daily Star claimed that the 46-year-old actor and host of "The Titan Games" said that while the younger generation has helped make the world a better place by making it more tolerant, the perpetual offense of "generation snowflake" is "putting us backwards."
"I don’t have to agree with what somebody thinks, who they vote for, what they voted for, what they think, but I will back their right to say or believe it. That's democracy," the outlet claimed he said. "So many good people fought for freedom and equality — but this generation are looking for a reason to be offended. If you are not agreeing with them then they are offended — and that is not what so many great men and women fought for."
"We thankfully now live in a world that has progressed over the last 30 or 40 years," he said, according to the Daily Star. "People can be who they want, be with who they want, and live how they want. That can only be a good thing — but generation snowflake or, whatever you want to call them, are actually putting us backwards."
The tabloid even slapped the story on its front cover Friday:
The Daily Star is owned by Reach PLC, which also owns the Daily Mirror and Daily Express. The Guardian notes, that the outlet is "overseen by the Independent Press Standards Organisation, meaning Johnson could make an accuracy complaint to the press regulator."
The since-deleted report comes amid a series of free speech-related stories, including comedian Ricky Gervais pushing back on the outrage culture's attack on comedy. "Please stop saying 'You can't joke about anything anymore,'" Gervais tweeted on New Year's Eve. "You can. You can joke about whatever the f*** you like. And some people won't like it and they will tell you they don't like it. And then it's up to you whether you give a f*** or not. And so on. It's a good system."
Among the other big free speech/perpetual offense headlines in recent weeks is comedian Kevin Hart's decision to step down as Oscars host after decade-old "homophobic" comments resurfaced. Two days after he was announced as the next host of the Academy Awards, Hart announced that he was stepping down after the Academy demanded he apologize, again, for the comments. Hart has since said he is done apologizing for mistakes of the past.