The Water Dancer: Oprah & Brad Pitt to Adapt Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Debut Novel into Film
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oscar nominee Oprah Winfrey has officially partnered up with Oscar-winning actor-producer Brad Pitt to develop the film adaptation of author Ta-Nehisi Coates’ fantasy drama novel titled The Water Dancer. MGM will also produce and will handle the theatrical distribution of the film.
“Ta-Nehisi’s debut fiction novel has at its heart, a beautiful character in Hiram Walker, whose personal odyssey weaves the supernatural and spiritual, with the terrible reality of the forced separations endured by enslaved people and their families for centuries,” MGM’s film group chairman Michael De Luca and MGM’s film group president Pamela Abdy said in a statement. “Hiram’s story is one of devotion to those he loves, and the journey he takes to bring them together. All of us at MGM are incredibly honored to join Ta-Nehisi, Kamilah, Plan B and Harpo Films in bringing this film to the screen.”
Set in the pre-Civil War South, The Water Dancer centers around Hiram Walker, who was born into slavery and has an amazing photographic memory despite having no memory of his mother, who have abandoned him when he was young. After almost drowning from a carriage accident, he discovers his superhuman ability which was suddenly triggered by his powerful memories of his mother. As he struggles to gain an understanding of this power, he becomes involved with the Underground Railroad and meets historical figures.
The film adaptation was also penned by Coates. Published in 2019, the novel became an instant hit and was featured on The New York Times fiction best-seller list. It was also featured on Oprah Winfrey’s Apple TV+’s series Oprah’s Book Club where the billionaire talk show host described it as one of the best books she has ever read in her entire life.
The Water Dancer will also be produced by Kamilah Forbes, who worked with Coates on the theatrical event of Between the World and Me. Winfrey and Pitt are set to produce through their Harpo Films and Plan B banners, respectively. This marks the second collaboration between Harpo and Plan B, who have first worked on 2014’s Selma.
(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images, Michael Kovac/Getty Images for J/P HRO Gala & Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Gordon Parks Foundation)