Unruly: Mahershala Ali to star as Jack Johnson in HBO’s new miniseries
After over a year since True Detective had debuted its third season, Variety is bringing word that two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali has set up his latest collaboration with HBO as he officially signs for the leading role in the upcoming limited series titled Unruly. Executive produced by Tom Hanks, the six-part miniseries will center around the life of the late boxing legend Jack Johnson.
Based on Ken Burns’ 2005 PBS documentary titled Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, the limited series follows Mahershala Ali as Jack Johnson, who is known as the first Black heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Described as an unapologetically Black, Unruly chronicles Johnson’s life as he navigated through the competitive world of boxing during the height of the Jim Crow era.
Interestingly, this will be the second time that Ali will get to portray Johnson as he previously played him in a 2000 stage production of The Great White Hope. Since then, the Moonlight actor has been wanting to have the chance to play Johnson on screen and has even described it as his dream role.
Unruly series will be written by Tony nominee Dominique Morisseau. It will be executive produced by Ali along with his wife Amatus Karim through their Know Wonder production banner as part of Ali’s first-look deal at HBO. In addition to Hanks, Gary Goetzman will also be executive producing for Playtone. Ken Burns of Florentine Films and Know Wonder’s Mimi Valdés along with Beau Willimon and Playtone’s Steven Shareshian are also serving as executive producers.
Ali’s notable film credits include The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Place Beyond the Pines, Free State of Jones, Moonlight, and Green Book with the latter two earning him two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. He is expected to portray the iconic Marvel character of Blade in an upcoming MCU film.
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