Mo’Nique, “Treme” actress Khandi Alexander and Charles S. Dutton are also on board with Dee Rees writing and directing the pic.
Story is based on the life of Bessie Smith, who overcame her tempestuous personal life to become one of the most acclaimed performing and recording artists of the 1920s and ’30s, earning the nickname “Empress of the Blues.”
Williams will play Smith’s husband.
The pic is produced by HBO Films in association with Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit Entertainment and Lili and the late Richard Zanuck’s the Zanuck Co., with Lili Fini Zanuck, Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel serving as executive producer and Richard Zanuck also getting a posthumous exec producer credit.
Ever since his star-making role on “The Wire” as hitman Omar, Williams has become a favorite of HBO’s as he is also currently playing Chalky White on its gangster series “Boardwalk Empire.” Williams has also begun broadening his presence on the big screen, having last being seen in Sony’s “Robocop” reboot with the Paramount film “The Gambler” starring Mark Wahlberg bowing later this year.
He is repped by WME and Silverlining Entetainment.