Back to IndieWire

‘Godfather of Harlem’ Teaser: Forest Whitaker Is a Menacing Mobster Who Teams up With Malcolm X

The 10-episode series is coming to Epix this fall.

Forest Whitaker, "Godfather of Harlem"

Forest Whitaker, “Godfather of Harlem”


Epix is digging into the shady side of history books for its upcoming drama “Godfather of Harlem” starring Forest Whitaker. In the series, he plays American mob boss and bookmaker Bumpy Johnson (born Ellsworth Raymond Johnson) in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood during the 1960s. His life has inspired many TV and movie adaptations, most recently on the big screen in “American Gangster.”

In the teaser trailer below, Bumpy wants his old neighborhood back after time spent in prison. As Swizz Beatz & DMX’s “They Don’t Love Me” plays, he uses strong-arm tactics to get what he wants. He also forges a partnership with Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch), whose famous speech about using “any means necessary” can also be heard.

Here’s Epix’s official description:

“Premiering on EPIX this fall, Godfather of Harlem is inspired by the story of infamous crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Whitaker), who in the early 1960s returned from ten years in prison to find the neighborhood he once ruled in shambles. With the streets controlled by the Italian mob, Bumpy must take on the Genovese crime family to regain control. During the brutal battle, he forms an alliance with radical preacher Malcolm X (Thatch) – catching Malcolm’s political rise in the crosshairs of social upheaval and a mob war that threatens to tear the city apart. Godfather of Harlem is a collision of the criminal underworld and the civil rights movement during one of the most tumultuous times in American history.”


The 10-episode series, which comes to Epix this fall, also stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Giancarlo Esposito, Paul Sorvino, and Ilfenesh Hadera.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox