According to Deadline, Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors), Anika Noni Rose (The Good Wife), Derek Luke (Empire), Chad L. Coleman (The Walking Dead), and Erica Tazel (Justified) have all joined the four-night, eight-hour, multi-channel Roots remake. Whitaker will be playing Fiddler, the role that won Louis Gossett Jr. an Emmy in the original 1977 miniseries. Paquin will be Nancy Holt, “the wife of a Confederate officer who has her own agenda,” and Meyers will be Tom Lea, “an uneducated slave owner desperate to claw his way into the elite company of Southern gentility.” The others will be rounding out the supporting cast, with Rose as “the cherished, smart daughter of Kunta Kinte,” Luke as military trainer Silla ba Dibba, Coleman as “stern no-nonsense slave” Mingo, and Tazel will be preacher’s daughter Matilda, a role that won Olivia Cole an Emmy in the original. They’ll be joining Laurence Fishburne (who will be playing author Alex Haley).
Additionally, A&E revealed that after an extensive global search, it has cast newcomers Malachi Kirby and Regé-Jean Page in the respective (and iconic) roles of Kunta Kinte, “a Mandinka warrior who is educated, proud, strong and resilient,” and Chicken George, a handsome social magnet and son of Kizzy, “who knows how to transfix a crowd with a story.”
Mario Van Peebles and Bruce Beresford were added as directors for the project, which is currently in production in New Orleans for an airdate yet to be announced.
The remake will debut on the History, A&E and Lifetime channels.