A cast loaded with Academy Award winners and other A-list talent has been unveiled for the upcoming A+E Networks event series “Roots.”
In the latest announcement, A+E revealed that Oscar winners Forest Whitaker and Anna Paquin and Golden Globe winner Jonathan Rhys Meyers have been added to the lineup. Also joining the project are Anika Noni Rose, Chad L. Coleman, Erica Tazel and Derek Luke, along with newcomers Malachi Kirby and Regé-Jean Page.
They join previously announced Laurence Fishburne, who will play “Roots” author Alex Haley.
“After a global search to find the perfect actors to play the iconic roles of ‘Kunta Kinte’ and ‘Chicken George’ that spanned 15 locations (Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Congo, South Africa, Kenya, Los Angeles, London, Toronto, Vancouver, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, New York, Paris and Ireland), newcomers Malachi Kirby and Regé-Jean Page (‘Survivor,’ ‘Waterloo’) stood out from the crowd,” A+E said in its announcement. “Both Malachi as Kunta Kinte and Regé-Jean as Chicken George showed an emotional depth and understanding of the characters that is critical to the project. Malachi was handpicked by executive producers Will Packer and LeVar Burton, who played the original Kunta Kinte.”
Production is under way in New Orleans, with the production set to begin later this month in South Africa. The project will run eight hours over four nights. Mario Van Peebles and Bruce Beresford have been announced as directors for nights two and four.
The project is an A+E Studios production in association with Marc Toberoff and The Wolper Organization, the company that produced the original “Roots.”
“Will Packer, Marc Toberoff, Mark Wolper, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal serve as executive producers,” the announcement notes. “LeVar Burton and Korin D. Huggins are co-executive producers. Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Alison McDonald, and Charles Murray are writing. Dirk Hoogstra, Arturo Interian and Michael Stiller serve as Executives in Charge of Production for History.”