We can now add Tyrese Gibson, Luke James, singer Jacob Latimore and rapper Nas to the cast of Fox Searchlight’s Kasi Lemmons’ musical Black Nativity, which is now back on track, as previously reported, after a brief hiatus, due to the fact that an actor to play the lead male role had yet to be secured.
Recapping… The project initially had Samuel L. Jackson’s interest, as well as Laurence Fishburne’s, and several other *name* black actors in that age group, but they all reportedly passed on the project. It wasn’t entirely clear exactly why all of these actors passed on the role (although it was noted that Samuel’s asking price may have been too much for the film’s reported $10 million budget). It was stated that the role needed an actor who could sing, and be believable as the father of Jennifer Hudson (who’s already attached to star in the project).
It was eventually revealed that Forest Whitaker had been cast as the male lead, with Angela Bassett also attached to star in the film as J-Hud’s mother (now Whitaker’s wife), in a work that’s based on Langston Hughes‘ Broadway gospel musical.
The project has actually been in the works since 2009, when we first announced it. The story centers on a young black teen from Baltimore, who is sent to Harlem by his mother to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged grandparents. The boy then learns the real meaning of faith and family when his grandfather delivers a Christmas Eve sermon and “a stylized, dream-sequence retelling of the classic Nativity story.“
Lemmons is directing from her own screenplay, and Raphael Saadiq is writing the music for this musical, by the way.
No word yet on what roles exactly that Tyrese, Luke James, Jacob Latimore and Nas are playing in the film.
Shooting has begun in New York City, so get your cameras out New Yorkers!