EXCLUSIVE: Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Terry Crews and Fast & Furious franchise actor Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges have signed on as leads in John Henry, a dramatic thriller from first-time film director Will Forbes. Jamila Velazquez (Empire), Ken Foree, Kimberly Hebert Gregory (Better Call Saul), Tyler Alvarez, and JJ Soria (The Oath) co-star in the indie which is being produced by Defiant Studios’ Eric B. Fleischman, Automatik’s Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, and Kodiak’s Maurice Fadida.

Described as a modern retelling of the folklore, the plot, co-written by Forbes and Doug Skinner, follows John Henry (Crews), a man who has traded violence for a peaceful life in South Los Angeles. But when he meets two immigrant kids running from the leader of his former gang (Bridges), Henry must decide whether to revisit his troubled past in order to give them a future.

iWood Studios, which is headed by executive producer Matthew Antoun, financed the project. Executive producers include Emily Siegel of Defiant as well as Crews and Bridges.

Crews can be seen in Fox/Marvel’s Deadpool sequel, which currently has a domestic box office tally of 218M, and later this summer in Boots Riley’s Sundance standout, Sorry to Bother You.

Bridges can be heard in Global Road Entertainment’s Showdogs and his next feature, Ride, is expected to hit theaters later this summer.

Crews is repped by UTA, 3Arts Entertainment, and Morris Yorn; Bridges by CAA, Ebony Son Management, and Fox Rothschild LLP; Velasquez by Gersh, 831 Entertainment and Bloom Hergott; Soria by David Dean Management and Pakula/King & Associates; Forbes by UTA and Grandview; Alvarez by Buchwald and Shirley Grant Management.