A+E’s ‘Roots’ Casts Forest Whitaker, Derek Luke, Anna Paquin and More

A+E network’s upcoming Roots mini-series announced its cast today and the list includes some pretty impressive names, as well a couple of newcomers.

The four-night, eight-hour scripted miniseries portrays author Alex Haley’s American family origin story beginning with the life of Kunta Kinte, a Mandinka warrior who is educated, proud, strong and resilient, and spanning many generations.

In the original mini-series, Kunta was played by LeVar Burton and this go ’round a newcomer Malachi Kirby has been tapped to play the iconic role, after a global search that occurred in 15 locations. Malachi was handpicked by Burton himself, along with his fellow executive producer Will Packer.

Regé-Jean Page, who will play Kizzy’s son Chicken George, was also selected after a worldwide search. Both Malachi as Kunta Kinte and Regé-Jean as Chicken George showed an emotional depth and understanding of the characters that is critical to the project.

Laurence Fishburne was previously announced as Alex Haley, the author of the novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family and now more talent joins him including, Forest Whitaker, Derek Luke, Anna Paquin, Anika Noni Rose and more.

Read more about the cast and characters below:

  • Academy Award winner® Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler, South Paw) as “Fiddler,” a slave who tries to mentor Kunta Kinte and risks his life to help him escape;
  • Academy Award winner Anna Paquin (True Blood) as “Nancy Holt,” the wife of a Confederate officer who has her own agenda when it comes to the handling of slaves;
  • Golden Globe® Award winning and Emmy® Award nominated actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors) as “Tom Lea,” an uneducated slave owner desperate to claw his way into the elite company of Southern gentility;
  • Tony Award® winner Anika Noni Rose (Dream Girls, The Good Wife, The Princess and the Frog) as “Kizzy,” the cherished, smart daughter of Kunta Kinte who maintains her family pride and warrior spirit;
  • Chad L. Coleman (The Walking Dead, The Wire) as “Mingo,” a stern no-nonsense slave who keeps the Lea plantation afloat;
  • Erica Tazel (Justified) as “Matilda,” a preacher’s daughter and love interest to “Chicken George”
  • Derek Luke (Captain America: The First Avenger, Antwone Fisher) as “Silla Ba Dibba,” the military trainer of Juffure, charged with transforming teen boys into powerful Mandinka Warriors.

Production is currently underway in New Orleans and set to begin later this month in South Africa.

The event series to be simulcast on Lifetime, A&E and History channels.

Photo Credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com/ Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com


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