Elizabeth Marvel (Hulu’s “The Dropout,” “News of the World”) has joined the star-studded cast of Blitz Bazawule’s adaptation of “The Color Purple”.
The forthcoming Warner Bros. musical movie is an adaptation of Alice Walker’s iconic American novel, as well as the Oscar-nominated 1985 film and Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that it inspired.
Production is currently underway for the project in Georgia, where the story is set. Directed by Bazawule (best known for his work on Beyoncé’s “Black is King,” “The Burial of Kojo” and “Cherish the Day”), from a screenplay by Marcus Gardley (“The Chi”), the story spotlights Celie (Fantasia Barrino, in in her feature film debut), a Black woman whose personal awakening in the American South of the early 20th century is at the center of this epic story.
Told through a lens of magical realism, dance and an uplifting musical score infused with African American jazz, gospel and blues, the movie aims to astonish lovers of earlier adaptations and introduce these beloved characters to a new generation.
Marvel will assume the role of Miss Millie — the unpleasant and overbearing mayor’s wife who hires Sofia (played by Danielle Brooks in the forthcoming adaptation) to be her maid. The character was played by Dana Ivey in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film.
Oprah Winfrey, who made her feature acting debut in that movie, is producing the new project under her Harpo Films banner; Spielberg also returns to produce for his Amblin Entertainment. Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones, both of whom produced the Broadway musical, are also producers. Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker, Mara Jacobs, Carla Gardini, Kristie Macosko Krieger and Adam Fell are executive producers.
The cast for the new version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning story features Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery, Colman Domingo as Mister, Corey Hawkins as Harpo, H.E.R. as Squeak, Halle Bailey as Young Nettie, Ciara as Nettie, David Alan Grier as Reverend Avery, Tamala J. Mann as First Lady, Phylicia Pearl Mpasi as Young Celie, Deon Cole as Alfonso, Stephen Hill as Buster, and Louis Gossett Jr. as Ol’ Mister.
Earlier this week, Essence announced that recent Oscar-nominee Aunjanue Ellis would join the cast of the film. The actor — who’s also been nominated for 2 Emmy awards — will play Mama, mother to Celie and Nettie.
“The Color Purple” is set to be released on December 20, 2023.
Marvel currently stars as Noel Holmes in the Hulu limited series “The Dropout” and was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award (for outstanding lead performer in a play) for her role as Mary Tyrone in the audible production of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” on Thursday. Marvel will next star in David E. Kelley’s limited series “Love & Death,” about the true story of Texas housewife Candy Montgomery’s murder of Betty Gore in 1980, for HBO Max.
She was most recently seen in Paul Greengrass’ “News of the World” for Universal and in the Netflix limited series “Unbelievable.” Marvel is also known for her roles on Showtime’s “Homeland,” where she portrayed President Elizabeth Keane, the first woman too hold the office; as Heather Dunbar on Netflix’s “House of Cards; and in Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories,” co-starring Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller. On stage, Marvel has appeared in the Broadway productions of “Other Desert Cities,” “Seascape” and “Picnic.”
Marvel is repped by Innovative Artists and Viking Entertainment.
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