Parker Sawyers, known for parts in “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012), “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” (2014) and “Monsters: Dark Continent” (2014), has been cast to play Barack Obama in a film based on the early romance between Barack and Michelle Obama.
Titled “Southside With You” – I suppose referring to South Side, Chicago, home to some of the most significant figures in the history of American politics, including Obama – the project is being pitched as a “Before Sunset”-style type of movie (in short, man, woman, lots of mostly profound conversation over a period of time), which will take place entirely in one day during the summer of 1989, when one Barack Obama (then a first-year Harvard Law student) took his future wife, Michelle (an associate at a Chicago law firm), out on a first date, which included a tour of Chicago’s South Side.
Sawyers will play the younger Barack, joining the previously-cast Tika Sumpter as the younger Michelle Obama (who was Michelle Robinson at the time).
The future couple also caught a screening of Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” – something the president has talked about previously. I assume that moment in time will be incorporated into the script.
The film will be directed by Richard Tanne, from his own screenplay.
Director Tanne and star Sumpter developed the script together.
Glendon Palmer, who recently joined IM Global as the leading producer/financier and international sales agency’s senior vice-president of development and production, is shepherding the project for the company.
IM Global CEO Stuart Ford, president of production Matt Jackson, Palmer and Tracy Bing will serve as executive producers.
“Tika and I have worked diligently for two years to bring this story to the screen and we couldn’t be more grateful to Stuart Ford for making it happen,” said Tanne. “Between Stuart, Matt, Glendon, JR, Bob, and everyone at IM Global, we are so fortunate to be surrounded by the most supportive and passionate team around.”
I love the Richard Linklater “Before” movies, and, in the past, when I watched them, I imagined a black man and black woman starring, so this intrigues me, especially given that the story is based on a very real-life romance that we’re all broadly familiar with today. So let’s see how this goes…
Filming is set to begin this summer.