×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sam Rockwell to Play KKK Leader in Taraji P. Henson’s Civil Rights Drama ‘Best of Enemies’

Sam Rockwell will play a Ku Klux Klan leader opposite Taraji P. Henson in the civil rights drama “The Best of Enemies.”

Production will start in Atlanta on May 22 under Fred Bernstein’s Astute Films banner. Henson has been attached since 2015 to star in the film, set up with “Empire” producer Danny Strong, Tobey Maguire, Matthew Plouffe, Bernstein, Matt Berenson, Robin Bissell, and Dominique Telson. The executive producers are Rick Jackson and Jeremiah Samuels.

Bissell, an exec producer on “The Hunger Games” and “Seabiscuit,” will make his directorial debut from his own script, based on Osha Gray Davidson’s book “The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South.”

“Empire” star Henson will portray Ann Atwater, a civil rights activist in Durham, N.C., who battled KKK leader C.P. Ellis for a decade until 1971, when the two agreed to co-chair a two-week community meeting to deal with a court-ordered school desegregation decree. That event changed both of their lives immeasurably.

Babou Ceesay has been tapped to star as Bill Riddick, who reluctantly, yet masterfully, persuaded Ellis and Atwater to head the community summit to try and reach a compromise. Anne Heche, Wes Bentley, Bruce McGill, Nick Searcy, and John Gallagher Jr. round out the cast.

Henson recently starred in “Hidden Figures” and is currently shooting “Proud Mary” for Screen Gems. Rockwell will be seen next in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Ceesay stars alongside Idris Elba and Freida Pinto in the Showtime series “Guerilla.”

Henson is repped by UTA and Vincent Cirrincione Associates. Rockwell is repped by Gersh and Untitled Entertainment.

More Film

  • Alamode Acquires Lone Scherfig’s ‘The Kindness

    Alamode Acquires Lone Scherfig’s Berlin Opener ‘The Kindness of Strangers’

    Munich-based Alamode has taken German and Austrian rights to Lone Scherfig’s “The Kindness of Strangers,” ahead of the picture’s opening-night gala screening at the Berlin Film Festival next month. Alamode acquired the rights from London-based HanWay Films, which is handling worldwide sales. Entertainment One is distributing the film in Canada and SF Studios in Scandinavia. [...]

  • Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller

    Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller 'Blackwing' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Voltage Pictures will produce and fully finance screenwriter David Loughery’s latest thriller “Blackwing,” Variety has learned exclusively. The company will introduce “Blackwing” to buyers at the upcoming European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival, which opens Feb. 7. Nicolas Chartier and Dominic Rustam are producing, and Jonathan Deckter is executive producing for Voltage Pictures. [...]

  • ‘Metro Exodus’ Opens Up Post-Apocalyptic Russia

    ‘Metro Exodus’ Author On Film, Possible TV Series, Expansive New Game

    Since the launch of the post-apocalyptic survival first-person shooter “Metro 2033” in 2010, the series has kept its action confined to the tunnels running underneath Russia. “Metro Exodus,” due out next month, takes the gameplay to the surface for the first time, going above ground with sprawling levels against a changing backdrop of weather conditions [...]

  • Berlin Film 'The Ground Beneath My

    Berlin Competition Film 'The Ground Beneath My Feet' Sold to Germany's Salzgeber (EXCLUSIVE)

    Salzgeber has acquired the German rights for Berlin Film Festival competition title “The Ground Beneath My Feet” from sales agent Picture Tree International. Variety has been given exclusive access to the film’s trailer. Salzgeber will release the film, directed by Marie Kreutzer, mid-May. Picture Tree describes the movie as a “contemporary female-led drama touching on [...]

  • Donald Glover'Atlanta' TV show premiere, Arrivals,

    Childish Gambino Surprises Beverly Hills Crowd With Reimagined 'Redbone'

    Donald Glover made an unexpected appearance at Film Independent’s “An Evening With…” series on Tuesday, held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills and presented by the HFPA. Joining “Black Panther” composer and Childish Gambino collaborator Ludwig Göransson, who was the subject of a Q&A conducted by “The Treatment” host Elvis Mitchell, [...]

  • 76th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS --

    Film News Roundup: Glenn Close Selected for Oscar Wilde Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Glenn Close gets an honor, AFI names its Directing Workshop for Women participants and Teri Polo gets cast in a Christmas drama. CLOSE HONOR Glenn Close will be honored on Feb. 21 by the US-Ireland Alliance at the 14th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards, held at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot in [...]

  • Jason Reitman Ghostbusters

    Jason Reitman to Direct Secret 'Ghostbusters' Movie

    Sony Pictures is getting the wheels in motion for the next installment in the “Ghostbusters” franchise, and it knows who it’s going to call to direct: Jason Reitman. Sources tell Variety that Reitman, whose father, Ivan, directed the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, will direct the latest pic in the famous franchise. Reitman has also co-written a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content