BREAKING: Chadwick Boseman, who will next be seen in Disney/Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, will star as the highly respected Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall — the first African American judge on that court — in the courtroom thriller that follows Marshall as a young lawyer through one of his career-defining cases. Reginald Hudlin is directing, beginning in Los Angeles this week before the holidays and then will resume in late spring after he completes his producing duties for the 88th Annual Academy Awards.
The film focuses on an important case in Marshall’s early career: a true incident in the young lawyer life — long before his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Described like this: “As the nation teeters on the brink of WWII, a nearly bankrupt NAACP sends Marshall to conservative Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur against his wealthy socialite employer in a sexual assault and attempted murder trial that quickly became tabloid fodder. In need of a high profile victory but muzzled by a segregationist court, Marshall is partnered with Samuel Friedman, a young Jewish lawyer who has never tried a case. Marshall and Friedman struggle against a hostile storm of fear and prejudice, driven to discover the truth in the sensationalized trial which helped set the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement to come.”
Marshall is best known probably for arguing a landmark case, however. Before he was appointed to the Supreme Court, he was a lawyer who argued before the high court (and won) in Brown vs. The Board of Education, which desegregated public schools. The late great Marshall (he died in 1993) was appointed on the U.S. Court of Appeals by President John F. Kennedy and it was the subsequent president, Lyndon Johnson who then nominated him for the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967.
Noted Hudlin in making the announcement: “Thurgood Marshall was a man who took his life in his hands every time he came to a town to bring justice. Marshall was a cowboy who used his law books as guns. He was the smartest guy in the room of any room he was in. But he wasn’t a punk and didn’t hesitate to throw a punch if the occasion called for it.
Marshall is being financed by China-based Super Hero Films, Ltd. with Paula Wagner (Mission Impossible) producing through her Chestnut Ridge Productions banner. Hudlin (Django Unchained), Jonathan Sanger (The Elephant Man), and Super Hero Films’ Jun Dong are also producing from a screenplay by trial lawyer Michael Koskoff and his son Jacob Koskoff who scripted The Weinstein Company’s Macbeth.
Serving as executive producers are Super Hero Films’ Luo, Jialing Deng, and Beely Lee.
The project is one in a slate of features financed by Super Hero Films (very appropriate for a Thurgood Marshall project), a China-based collective created by Peter Luo, CEO; Sun Li Li, the principal of China Wit Media Co., Ltd.; Pan Lai, the principal of Hero Film, Ltd.; and Xu Yan the principal of Star Light Media Co., Ltd.
The film is being produced with the full support of the Thurgood Marshall and Samuel Friedman estates, including their children, John W. Marshall and Lauren Friedman.
Boseman is repped by Michael Greene of Greene & Associates and Management 360. Hudlin and the film are represented by CAA. Ken Kleinberg of Kleinberg Lange represented Wagner.