11:00am PT by Kate Stanhope
A+E's 'Roots' Miniseries Adds T.I., Mekhi Phifer and James Purefoy
A+E continues to draw big names for its upcoming Roots remake.
Rapper Tip "T.I." Harris, Mekhi Phifer, James Purefoy, Matthew Goode, Lane Garrison, Emayatzy Corinealdi and G. Hannelius have signed on for the four-night, eight-hour miniseries event, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Harris will play Cyrus, a headstrong slave who fights for his freedom for the Union Army against Confederate forces; Phifer will portray Jerusalem, a mute slave working on the Murray plantation who is not quite what he appears to be; Purefoy is cast as John Waller, a wealthy Virginia plantation owner who buys Kunta Kinte as a slave; Goode is set as Waller's educated, charming brother, Dr. William Waller; Garrison is on board as Frederick Murray, a volatile, unpredictable Confederate officer and slave owner; Corinealdi will play Kunta Kinte's wife, Belle; and Hannelius will portray John Waller's daughter, Missy.
They join previously announced Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Laurence Fishburne, Anika Noni Rose, Chad L. Coleman, Erica Tazel, Derek Luke and newcomers Malachi Kirby and Regé-Jean Page. The latter two were discovered following a global search that spanned 15 locations, including Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa, where the project began shooting in late September following a stint in New Orleans.
The reboot of the 1977 original will air across multiple A+E networks, including History and Lifetime. Directors for the big-budget project include Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games), Mario Van Peebles (New Jack City), Thomas Carter (Coach) and Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy). Questlove is also attached as executive music producer.
Roots is being produced in association with Marc Toberoff and The Wolper Organization, the company behind the original. Will Packer, Marc Toberoff, Mark Wolper, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal are all on board as executive producers, with original Roots star LeVar Burton and Korin D. Huggins co-exec producing. Konner, Rosenthal, Alison McDonald and Charles Murray penned the reboot.