Why a New Movie About Muhammad Ali Has a Mostly White Cast Deadline

The creators of the HBO movie "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight" defended the project's white cast, with screenwriter Shawn Slovo explaining that it's a Supreme Court drama set in 1971, and there were "no black clerks and woman clerks" then, reports

A TV critic asked the creators at the Television Critics Association press tour why the film had so many white characters and didn't "go into what black people were thinking” when Ali refused to be conscripted in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

The story notes that Ali does appear in the film, but via archival footage. Danny Glover plays Justice Thurgood Marshall in the film, but otherwise the main cast is white -- including Christopher Plummer, Frank Langella and Ed Begley Jr. The movie is directed by Stephen Frears.

Slovo said: "That’s the drama we were telling. We chose to make a Supreme Court drama about the Ali case.”

Ali was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing title, but in 1971 the Supreme Court overturned the conviction. The movie focuses on that Supreme Court decision.