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T.I., James Purefoy, Mekhi Phifer, More Cast in A&E Networks ‘Roots’ Revival

A+E Networks’ “Roots” remake is filling out its cast with the addition of seven more players, including rapper Tip Harris, better known as T.I., Variety has learned.

“The Following” alum James Purefoy and longtime “E.R.” star Mekhi Phifer have also been cast, along with Matthew Goode (“The Imitation Game,” “The Good Wife”), Lane Garrison (“Prison Break”), Emayatzy Corinealdi (“Hand of God”) and G. Hannelius (“Dog With a Blog”).

T.I. will appear in the final part of the four installments of the revival miniseries, playing Cyrus, a headstrong slave who fights for his freedom for the Union Army against Confederate Forces. His character will be featured prominently in the finale episode. Phifer will play Jerusalem, a mute slave who works on the Murray plantation, but who is not quite what he appears to be; Purefoy has been cast as John Waller, the wealthy owner of a Virginia planation who buys Kunta Kinte as a slave upon his arrival in America; Goode will play Purefoy’s character’s charming and well-educated brother, Dr. William Waller; while Hennelius will play his daughter, Missy; Garrison will play Frederick Murray, a volatile, unpredictable Confederate officer and slave owner; and Corinealdi will play Belle, the wife of Kunta Kinte (played by the previously announced newcomer Malachi Kirby).

The additions join a cast that includes star Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anika Noni Rose, Chad L. Coleman, Erica Tazel, Derek Luke, Regé-Jean Page and Kirby.

Based on the 1997 “Roots,” the eight-hour, four night reboot will be simulcast across the network portfolio on A&E, History and Lifetime.

The event series hails from A+E Studios, plus Marc Toberoff and the Wolper Organization, the company that produced the original miniseries. Will Packer, Toberoff, Marc Wolper, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal are exec producers, and LeVar Burton and Korin Huggins are co-exec producers. Konner, Rosenthal, Alison McDonald, and Charles Murray are writing. Dirk Hoogstra, Arturo Interian and Michael Stiller will serve as exec in charge of production for History. Bruce Beresford will direct the episode in which T.I. is featured, and other directors are Phillip Noyce, Mario Van Peebles and Thomas Carter. Questlove will oversee music on the project, as the exec music producer.

“Roots” is currently filming in Louisiana, and is set to premiere in 2016.

A Grammy Award-winning artist, T.I.’s television credits include Showtime’s “House of Lies” and Starz’s “Boss.” On the film side, he had a cameo in the “Entourage” movie and appeared in Marvel’s “Ant-Man” and “Get Hard” from Warner Bros., where he is under a development deal with the television studio. T.I. also has his own VH1 reality series “Family Hustle,” which just wrapped production on its fifth season. He is repped by UTA, Category 5’s Brian Sher attorney Jason Sloane.

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