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Sam Rockwell is teaming with Taraji P. Henson to star in The Best of Enemies, a true-life race drama from Astute Films.
Anne Heche, Wes Bentley, Bruce McGill, Nick Searcy and John Gallagher Jr. have also joined the cast, as has 2017 BAFTA nominee Babou Ceesay (Guerilla).
The indie is being helmed by Robin Bissell — the longtime partner of filmmaker Gary Ross — who is making his directorial debut and comes with a slew of producers including Tobey Maguire and Danny Strong, the latter of whom showruns Henson’s Fox TV hit Empire. Also producing are Matt Berenson, Fred Bernstein, Dominique Telson, Matthew Plouffe and Bissell.
Enemies centers on the unlikely friendship between Ann Atwater (Henson), an outspoken black activist, and Claiborne Paul Ellis (Rockwell), a ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan, both of whom lived in Durham, N.C., in the turbulent 1960s civil rights era.
Atwater was a maid who became a social activist, while Ellis was a laborer who began attending city meetings to speak on behalf of the poor white working class. The two were put on a committee overseeing the desegregation of schools where, after heated battles and much to their surprise, they discovered common ground: They both cared about the economical and educational well-being of their kids.
The script, which Bissell wrote, is inspired by the book The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South by Osha Gray Davidson.
Shooting is due to start Monday in Georgia. Rick Jackson and Jeremiah Samuels are executive producing. UTA Independent Film Group is representing domestic rights.
Rockwell, one of the busiest actors working in the indie scene, has several movies in the can, among them Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, an all-star dark comedy from Martin McDonagh. He is repped by Gersh and Untitled.
Henson, who is currently shooting the thriller Proud Mary for Screen Gems, is repped by UTA and Vincent Cirrincione Associates.
Bissell is repped by Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
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