Courtney B. Vance to Star in AMC Legal Thriller '61st Street'

Courtney B. Vance-Getty - H 2019
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Emmy winner Courtney B. Vance has signed on to star in AMC's legal drama 61st Street, from executive producers Peter Moffat and Michael B. Jordan.

The cable network has also cast Malin Akerman, Breaking Bad alum Betsy Brandt and Stranger Things' Charlie Heaton in its sci-fi romance anthology Soulmates.

Vance, who's also starring in National Geographic's Genius: Aretha, will portray a Chicago public defender in 61st Street. The series follows Moses Johnson, a promising black high school athlete who's swept up in the city's notoriously corrupt criminal justice system when he's taken by police as a supposed gang member and put in the eye of a storm as cops and prosecutors seek revenge for the death of an officer in a drug bust. Vance's Franklin Roberts has promised his wife he'll retire soon and spend more time with their teenage son, but he realizes Johnson is the case of a lifetime, one that could upend the entire Chicago judicial system.

"We couldn’t be more thrilled to have the phenomenal Courtney B. Vance returning to the courtroom for 61st Street," Sarah Barnett, president of AMC Networks Entertainment Group and AMC Studios, said Thursday in a statement. "Courtney is the cornerstone of what’s sure to be a stellar ensemble for this ambitious and highly entertaining drama."

Vance won an Emmy in 2016 for playing defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran on FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. In addition to Genius, he's also set to star in HBO's Lovecraft Country.

AMC picked up 61st Street as a two-season, 16-episode event series. Moffat (HBO's The Night Of, Showtime's Your Honor) and Jordan (Black Panther, Just Mercy) executive produce with Alana Mayo of Jordan's Outlier Society, Hilary Salmon and J. David Shanks.

The previously untitled Soulmates is set 15 years in the future, when a scientific test can determine unequivocally who a person's soulmate is. Along with Akerman (Billions, Trophy Wife), Brandt and Heaton, the cast also includes JJ Feild (New Amsterdam), Sarah Snook (Succession), David Costabile (Breaking Bad, Billions), Sonya Cassidy (Lodge 49), Joe Anderson, Steven Mackintosh (Rocketman) and Tom Goodman-Hill.

Black Mirror veteran Will Bridges and Brett Goldstein created the series and will executive produce with Jolyon Simonds through Fearless Minds, a Banijay Group company. Soulmates is based on Bridges and Goldstein's short film For Life.