Grammy-winner Tip “T.I.” Harris will play Cyrus, a headstrong slave who fights for his freedom for the Union Army against the Confederacy; Phifer will play Jerusalem, a mute slave who works on the Murray plantation, but who is not quite what he appears to be; Purefoy will appear as John Waller, the wealthy owner of a Virginia plantation who buys Kunta Kinte as a slave upon his arrival in America.
In addition, Matthew Goode will appear as Dr. William Waller, the educated, charming brother of John Waller; Lane Garrison will play Frederick Murray, a volatile, unpredictable Confederate officer and slave owner; Emayatzy Corinealdi will play Belle, the wife of Kunta Kinte; and G. Hannelius is Missy, the daughter of John Waller.
They join previously announced cast members and Academy Award winners Forest Whitaker and Anna Paquin, Golden Globe Award winning and Emmy Award nominated actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose, Academy Award nominee and Emmy winner Laurence Fishburne, Chad L. Colman, Erica Tazel, Derek Luke, and newcomers Malachi Kirby and Regé-Jean Page.
“Roots” is a historical portrait of American slavery recounting the journey of one family and their will to survive, endure and ultimately carry on their legacy despite enormous hardship and inhumanity.
Spanning multiple generations, the lineage begins with young Kunta Kinte, who is captured in his homeland of The Gambia and transported in brutal conditions to colonial America, where he’s sold into slavery.
“Roots” is an A&E Studios production in association with Marc Toberoff and The Wolper Organization, the company that produced the original “Roots.”
Will Packer, Marc Toberoff, Mark Wolper, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal serve as executive producers. LeVar Burton and Korin D. Huggins are co-executive producers. Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Alison McDonald, and Charles Murray are writing.
Questlove is executive music producer. “Roots” is directed by Phillip Noyce, Mario Van Peebles, Thomas Carter and Bruce Beresford. Arturo Interian and Michael Stiller serve as Executives in Charge of Production for History. “Roots” is distributed internationally by A+E Networks under the A+E Studios International banner.
The four-night, eight-hour event miniseries developed by History will simulcast on History, A&E and Lifetime.