Nigél Thatch, who received critical praise for his role as Malcolm X in Oscar-nominated Selma, is set to reprise the role
in Godfather of Harlem, Epix’s straight-to-series crime drama, starring and executive produced by Forest Whitaker. The series hails from Narcos co-creator Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein, and ABC Signature Studios. Vincent D’Onofrio, Ilfenesh Hadera and Antoinette Crowe-Legacy also star.
Written and executive produced by Brancato and Eckstein, Godfather of Harlem is inspired by the story of infamous crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Whitaker), who in the early 1960s returned from ten years in prison to find the neighborhood he once ruled in shambles. With the streets controlled by the Italian mob, Bumpy must take on the Genovese crime family to regain control. During the brutal battle, he forms an alliance with radical preacher Malcolm X (Thatch) – catching Malcolm’s political rise in the crosshairs of social upheaval and a mob war that threatens to tear the city apart.
Thatch’s Malcolm X is a former Harlem hustler who becomes the prime spokesman for the Nation of Islam and a world-wide icon. His fierce advocacy of eye-for-an-eye violence against white oppression has made him a lightning rod in the civil rights movement, loved by some, hated by many. His former street mentor Bumpy Johnson will become his closest friend, confidant and protector against a score of enemies.
Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi executive produce via Whitaker’s Significant Productions, along with Eckstein, James Acheson and Markuann Smith. Brancato will serve as showrunner.
Thatch was most recently seen in the series regular role of Colonel Robert Haskins in the CW’s conspiracy thriller drama Valor. He also played Willie Johnson in NBC’s American Dreams, a portrayal which led to his winning the role of Malcolm X in the Ava DuVernay-directed Selma.
Thatch became a familiar face to the sports world by way of his Budweiser campaign where he played the cocky, self-centered, egotistical, multi-sport athlete $Leon$, whose motto was, “Leon ain’t playin’, unless somebody’s payin’.” Thatch also played minor league baseball for Chicago’s Schaumburg Flyers where he was a pitcher for the team. In his professional debut against the Saint Paul Saints, he struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches.