Deadline reports that the upcoming EPIX crime drama Godfather of Harlem has landed Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) in a starring role opposite Forest Whitaker (Black Panther, The Crying Game). Esposito will play Adam Clayton Powell, a Congressman, Baptist minister, and very influential force in Harlem during the Civil Rights era.
Godfather for Harlem tells the story of crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Whitaker), who in the early 1960s returned after 10 years in prison to find the neighborhood he once ruled in shambles. With the streets controlled by the Italian mob, Bumpy takes on the Genovese crime family to regain control. During the brutal battle, he forms an alliance with radical preacher Malcolm X — catching his political rise in the crosshairs of social upheaval and a mob war that threatens to tear the city apart. The series is described as a collision of the criminal underworld and the civil rights movement during one of the most tumultuous times in American history.
The film also stars Antoinette Crowe-Legacy as Elise, Vincent D’Onofrio as Vincent Gigante and Ilfenesh Hadera as Mayme Johnsom.
Whitaker is set to executive produce alongside his Significant Productions banner topper Nina Yang Bongiovi, James Acheson and Markuann Smith along with Chris Brancato (Narcos) and Paul Eckstein, also serving as writers for the ABC Signature Studios project.
Esposito is just finishing up his second season reprising the character of Gustavo “Gus” Fring in the Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul. The season four finale will air Monday night on AMC.