Moonlight star Ashton Sanders is set to play Bigger Thomas in a feature adaptation of Richard Wright’s celebrated novel NATIVE SON, the Tracking Board has learned. This is a piece of news we’d been holding for several months as we waited for the project to find financing, which it now has in the form of A24.
Conceptual artist Rashid Johnson will direct from a script by Pulitzer-winning playwright Suzan Lori-Parks. Margaret Qualley (Novitiate) and Nick Robinson (Love, Simon) will co-star alongside KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk) and Bill Camp (The Night Of).
Per Wikipedia, Native Son tells the story of a young African-American man named Bigger Thomas who lives in poverty in a poor area of Chicago. The novel emphasizes the systemic inevitability behind Bigger’s crimes, and the protagonist’s lawyer argues that his client cannot escape his destiny, as he’s a product of a society that has told him since birth who, exactly, he is supposed to be. James Baldwin once wrote that “no American Negro exists who does not have his private Bigger Thomas living in his skull.”
Matthew Perniciaro and Michael Sherman will produce for Bow and Arrow Entertainment. Production will begin April 9 in Johnson’s hometown of Chicago.
UTA Independent Film Group negotiated the Native Son deal on behalf of the filmmakers, as UTA reps both Johnson and Parks. Sanders will soon be seen in The Equalizer 2 and Rupert Wyatt’s Captive State.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief