“Moonlight” star Ashton Sanders in final negotiations to take on the lead role of Bigger Thomas in a movie version of Richard Wright’s novel “Native Son.”

Nick Robinson, the lead actor in gay teen romance-drama “Love, Simon,” is also in talks to join the cast along with Margaret Qualley, KiKi Layne and Bill Camp.

A24, which released “Moonlight,” announced Thursday that it has acquired worldwide rights to “Native Son” with a new adaptation written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. Conceptual artist Rashid Johnson, who has worked across media to explore ideas about African American identity, will make his feature directing debut.

“A24 is active with some of the best filmmakers and films today,” said Johnson. “We’re excited to have a partner that shares our enthusiasm for this amazing and deeply complicated material.  We look forward to working with them to bring Richard Wright’s powerful story to life.”

Matthew Libatique, the cinematographer on “Black Swan” and “Straight Outta Compton,” will be the director of photography.

Popular on Variety

The movie will take place in present day Chicago, Johnson’s hometown. In the 1940 novel, Bigger Thomas is a 20-year-old African American living in poverty on Chicago’s South Side in the 1930s.

The film was developed and will be produced by Bow and Arrow Entertainment’s Matthew Pernicaro and Michael Sherman, coming off of Skate Kitchen and Madeline’s Madeline, which both just premiered at Sundance. UTA Independent Film Group negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.

Sanders portrayed the teenage Chiron charater in the middle segment of “Moonlight.” Upcoming projects include Rupert Wyatt’s “Captive State,” opposite John Goodman, and “The Equalizer 2” opposite Denzel Washington.

Johnson is represented by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham.Parks is represented by UTA and Schreck Rose & Dapello. Bow and Arrow is represented by Levin Law Corp. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.