Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Star Opposite Matthew McConaughey in Gary Ross’ ‘Free State of Jones’ (Exclusive)

Scott Stuber and Jon Kilik ae producing the Civil War tale for Robert Simonds’ STX Entertainment

Hot off a pair of acclaimed performances in “Beyond the Lights” and “Belle,” Gugu Mbatha-Raw will star opposite Matthew McConaughey in Gary Ross’ Civil War movie “Free State of Jones,” TheWrap has learned.

Robert Simonds’ STX Entertainment is producing the $65 million movie and co-financing with foreign sales company IM Global. STX will handle domestic distribution, while IM Global will handle foreign rights. CAA brokered the domestic deal.

Scott Stuber and Jon Kilik are producing with Ross, for whom the project has been a longtime passion project. 

Based on a true story, “Free State of Jones” will star McConaughey as Newton Knight and Mbatha-Raw as Rachel, a slave whose relationship with Knight played a central part in his life and in his armed rebellion against the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Mbatha-Raw is poised for stardom on the heels of back-to-back critical hits “Belle” and “Beyond the Lights,” both of which were directed by women. The British actress will soon be seen in the Wachowski’s sci-fi movie “Jupiter Ascending” and the Keanu Reeves courtroom drama “The Whole Truth,” and she’s currently filming Sony’s Untitled NFL Concussion Drama with Will Smith.

Mbatha-Raw is represented by CAA, Curtis Brown Group and Authentic Talent and Literary Management.