Jimmy Smits to Star in Baz Luhrmann’s Hip-Hop Drama 'The Get Down'

He'll play political boss Papa Fuerte in the Netflix musical series.
AP Images/Invision
Jimmy Smits

Baz Luhrmann and Netflix have found their leading man.

Jimmy Smits will play Francisco Cruz, better known as "Papa Fuerte," a South Bronx political boss who delivers services to his constituents that the city has failed to provide, such as jobs, housing and healthcare. A big man with brass, he navigates downtown politics the same way he handles his uptown turf — with ease and a touch of deception. Whether it’s his niece’s desire for disco stardom or a recent immigrant’s struggle to grab ahold of the American dream, if you want something in the neighborhood, you come to Papa Fuerte.

"The Puerto Rican culture of the '70s Bronx plays such a large role in the story we are telling that the character of Papa Fuerte had to be played by an actor who could bring experience, gravitas and authenticity to the role," said Luhrmann. "I know our entire cast is excited to have someone of Jimmy's talent joining us on the journey we are undertaking. We are thrilled to have him on The Get Down."

The musical drama is set in a broken-down and beaten-up 1970s New York, and follows a rag-tag crew of South Bronx teenagers who have no one and nothing except each other. They are armed with verbal games, improvised dance steps, magic markers and spray cans. The show tells the story of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip hop, punk and disco.

Hot off his turn on FX's Sons of Anarchy, Smits, a New York native, is no stranger to television. The Emmy winner also had roles on DexterNYPD BlueL.A. Law and The West Wing. Smits joins Dope breakout Shameik Moore, Paper Towns' Justice Smith, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete's Skylan Brooks and newcomers Herizen Guardiola and Tremaine Brown Jr

The 13-episode series will debut in 2016, and hails from Luhrmann, Shawn Ryan and Sony Pictures Television. Paul Watters, Thomas Kelly, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Marney Hochman will executive produce alongside Luhrmann and Ryan. Smits is repped by UTA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Tom Hoberman.

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