Corey Hawkins Joining Warner Bros Feature Musical ‘The Color Purple’

By Anthony D'Alessandro, Rosy Cordero

Corey Hawkins
Corey Hawkins AP

EXCLUSIVE: We hear that In the Heights star Corey Hawkins is getting back into business with Warner Bros for its feature adaptation of the Broadway musical The Color Purple, based on Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated 1985 movie. The role Hawkins is being buzzed to play is Harpo.

We’ve been hearing for some time about Hawkins circling Color Purple and that the studio was even testing actresses opposite him. As Deadline first told you, Ghana-born Black Is King filmmaker Blitz Bazawule is set to direct.

The Color Purple has a December 21, 2023 release date.

Marcus Gardley is writing the screenplay based on the Broadway reimagining of Alice Walker’s 1982 novel. The story depicts the lives of African American families and relationships in early 20th  century Georgia. The musical, featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel, blues and African rhythms, has a book by Marsha Norman with music by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.

The movie’s producers are Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones. EPs are Walker, Rebecca Walker, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Carla Gardini and Mara Jacobs.

The project reps a reunion with Hawkins and In the Heights producer Sanders.

Hawkins starred as Benny in Jon M. Chu’s feature take of the Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway award-winning musical In the Heights. 

A 2017 Tony Award nominee in the Best Actor in a Play category for Six Degrees of Separation, Hawkins also received an Emmy nomination last year in the Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series category for Survive. He is currently in production as lead of the film The Last Voyage of the Demeter, and he’s poised to be a contender this awards season for Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth for the role of Macduff; that pic is opening the NY Film Festival.

Hawkins has also starred in Straight Outta Compton, BlacKkKlansman, Kong: Skull Island, Iron Man 3 and the TV series The Walking Dead and HBO Max’s Americanah opposite Lupita Nyong’o and Uzo Aduba. He is repped by CAA and JTWATMM.

The original Broadway musical of The Color Purple debuted in 2005, scoring 11 Tony nominations and winning for LaChanze’s role as Celie. It ran for 910 performances. A revival in 2015 scored four more Tony noms and won for Best Revival of a Musical and for Cynthia Erivo in her Broadway debut. The musical has also won Grammys and Emmys.

Spielberg directed and produced the 11-time Oscar-nominated 1985 film, which Jones also produced. Winfrey made her feature debut in the original movie and earned a Supporting Actress Oscar nom. Winfrey, Jones and Sanders also produced the Broadway musical.

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