Natasha Lyonne, Garrett Hedlund and Trevante Rhodes are set to join the cast of Lee Daniels’ biopic on the life of Billie Holliday starring Andra Day, it was announced Tuesday.
“The United States vs. Billie Holliday” will be Daniels’ next film, and it will go into production early next month in Montreal.
The movie follows the legendary jazz musician and singer Holliday as she’s being targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics in an undercover sting operation led by federal agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair. Inspired by her life story, “The United States vs. Billie Holliday” examines Holliday’s struggles with addiction, fame and heartbreaking love.
“It is an extraordinary responsibility to tell the story of the iconic Billie Holiday. Her story is very personal to me and I hope to do justice when bringing to light this profound and complicated soul — a great artist and an unsung civil rights warrior,” Daniels said in a statement.
Pulitzer prize-winner Suzan-Lori Parks (“Native Son”) wrote the screenplay based on the 2015 book “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs” written by Johann Hari. The book is a non-fiction examination of the history and impact of drug criminalization during the period known as The War on Drugs.
The film is being produced by New Slate Ventures, Lee Daniels Entertainment, Roth Kirschenbaum Films with Jordan Fudge, Lee Daniels, Pamela Oas Williams and Tucker Tooley. The executive producers include Hilary Shor, George Parra, Mark Bomback and Dennis Stratton. BAFTA nominated composer Christopher Gunning will come out of retirement to design the original score, while Salaam Remi is on board as executive music producer.
Daniels’s last feature film was “The Butler” from 2013, which starred Forest Whitaker and grossed over $175 million at the worldwide box office.
Rhodes is best known for his work in “Moonlight” and was most recently seen in “Bird Box” and “The Predator.” Hedlund most recently starred in the Netflix film “Triple Frontier.” And Lyonne is the star of “Russian Doll” and “Orange Is the New Black.”
News of the cast was first reported by Deadline.