EXCLUSIVE: As the film prepares to go into production, principal cast has been set for The Firm’s drama Burden, with Garrett Hedlund in the title role joined by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, Oscar nominees Tom Wilkinson and Tess Harper and Hands of Stone‘s Usher Raymond IV.

Written and directed by Andrew Heckler and inspired by true events, the film follows Mike Burden (Hedlund), an orphan raised within the Ku Klux Klan who attempts to break away when the girl he falls in love with urges him to leave for a better life together. As the Klan seeks Mike out for vengeance, a black congregation led by the benevolent Reverend Kennedy takes Mike, his girlfriend and her son in, protects them and accepts them into their community in hopes of teaching Mike about love and acceptance.

Set to begin production in two weeks, Burden has been in the works for more than a decade, with things seriously getting in motion in 2015 under producer Robbie Brenner, who brought the project with her when she left Relativity to join the newly reconstituted The Firm in September 2015. Brenner is producing, with The Firm founder Jeff Kwatinetz executive producing along with Gabby Revilla and Kevin McKeon. Gary Raskin is handling production legal, with casting by Rich Delia. Good Universe is handling international sales.

Whitaker won the Best Actor Oscar for portraying dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland and has The Arrival and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story next on his plate. He recently was seen in Southpaw, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Fruitvale Station and the Roots remake. He’s repped by WME and Brillstein Entertainment.

Hedlund next will be seen in Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and other credits include On the Road and Tron: Legacy. He’s repped by WME, Brillstein Entertainment and Sloane Offer.

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Wilkinson is known for his Oscar-nominated roles in In the Bedroom and Michael Clayton, his Emmy-winning role as Ben Franklin on the miniseries John Adams, among many other roles and is onscreen in Snowden. He’s repped by Lou Coulson Associates and Principal Entertainment LA.

Harper is best known for her Oscar-nominated role in Crimes of the Heart and her other credits include No Country for Old Men. She’s repped by BRS/Gage Talent.

Raymond, who records as Usher, in onscreen as Sugar Ray Leonard in the Roberto Duran biopic Hands of Stone. He’s repped by WME.