Mahershala Ali has joined the cast of Ted Melfi’s “Hidden Figures,” the much-anticipated feature film adaptation of Margot Lee Shetterly’s book of the same name, which won’t be published until this fall by HarperCollins, and which tells the untold true story of the African American women mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Civil Rights era.
Ali joins the previously-cast Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer in the film, who will star as the women scientists.
Ali will play Henson’s love interest.
Also cast are Kevin Costner, Kirsten Durst and Glen Powell.
The adaptation was developed by producer Donna Gigliotti (producer of Oscar-caliber fare like “Shakespeare In Love” and “Silver Linings Playbook”), with Allison Schroeder penning the screenplay adaptation, which 20th Century Fox picked up, with a January 2017 release date eyed.
A January release suggests that the film isn’t an awards season property for the studio; unless it gets a late 2016 qualifying run in a limited number of theaters (NYC and LA specifically), and then opens wide in January 2017. No one has read the book yet (except the people who are making a film based on it), but it certainly reads like potential awards material.
Shetterly’s “Hidden Figures” tells the untold true story of the African American women mathematicians – Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, Kathryn Peddrew, Sue Wilder, Eunice Smith and Barbara Holley – who worked at NASA during the Civil Rights era. The book tells their story through the personal accounts of 4 specific women that then-NASA staffers referred to as “the colored computers.” Shetterly, whose father was one of the first African American engineers employed by NASA, is a journalist.