EXCLUSIVE: Antoine Fuqua’s Apple thriller Emancipation has rounded out its cast, with Steven Ogg (Snowpiercer, Westworld), Grant Harvey (Animal Kingdom, The Crossing), Ronnie Gene Blevins (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Joe), Jayson Warner Smith (The Walking Dead, The Birth of a Nation), Jabbar Lewis (upcoming Amazon series The Terminal List, Adventure Force 5), Michael Luwoye (Bluff City Law, She’s Gotta Have It) and Aaron Moten (Next, Disjointed) signing on.
The actors join an ensemble led by Will Smith, which also features Ben Foster, Charmaine Bingwa, Gilbert Owuor and Mustafa Shakir, as previously announced.
The Apple Original Film currently in production in New Orleans tells the story of Peter (Smith), a man who escapes from slavery—relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family to evade cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom. The film is inspired by the 1863 photos of “Whipped Peter,” taken during a Union Army medical examination, that first appeared in Harper’s Weekly. One image, known as “The Scourged Back,” which shows Peter’s bare back mutilated by a whipping delivered by his enslavers, ultimately contributed to growing public opposition to slavery.
Ogg will play Confederate Sergeant Howard, with Harvey and Blevins as Confederate soldiers Leeds and Harrington. Smith will play Capt. John Lyons, the wealthy owner of the plantation where Peter is enslaved, with Lewis as the enslaved Tomas, and Luwoye as the enslaved John, who bears the brand “R” for “runner.” Moten will portray Knowls, a mixed-race man who serves as slave catcher Fassel’s (Foster) sidekick, and is viewed as a traitor by the enslaved men.
Smith and Jon Mone are producing the film scripted by William N. Collage through Westbrook Studios, with Joey McFarland through McFarland Entertainment and Todd Black through Escape Artists. Fuqua, Chris Brigham, James Lassiter, Cliff Roberts and Glen Basner are exec producing.
Ogg is represented by APA; Harvey by McKeon/Myones Entertainment, Allegory Creative Management, and attorney Kevin S. Marks at Gang, Tyre, Ramer; Blevins by BRS/Gage Talent Agency and manager Carissa Stewart of GSA Entertainment; Smith by The Alexander White Agency (UK); Lewis by CGEM Talent; Luwoye by The Gersh Agency, Sweet180 and Jackoway Austen Tyerman; Moten by Gersh and Creative Artists Iceland.
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