Mahershala Ali To Star As Boxer Jack Johnson In HBO Limited Series | TV News


Two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali has already found success at HBO with the third season of True Detective, and he’s teaming up with the network again, this time for a limited series revolving around the life of boxer Jack Johnson.


Ali will star as the legendary boxer in a series titled Unruly, which he himself will executive produce alongside Tom Hanks and famed documentarian Ken Burns.


Unruly is described as “an unapologetically Black, no-holds-barred telling of Jack Johnson”, the “Galveston Giant” who rose to greatness and became the world’s first Black heavyweight champion at the height of the Jim Crow era.


Tony-nominated writer Dominique Morisseau will pen the six-part series, which will be based on Burns’ PBS documentary Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise And Fall Of Jack Johnson as well as its companion book by Geoffrey C. Ward.


Despite having two Oscars, this will possibly be a career high for Ali, who has frequently said in multiple interviews that playing Johnson is his dream role. He was able to play him 20 years ago in a stage production of The Great White Hope, but obviously only live audiences were able to see that. Now a whole world will be able to witness Ali realise his dream.


There’s a bunch of other producers involved in the project. Ali is producing via his production company Know Wonder with his wife Amatus Karim Ali and their producing partner Mimi Valdés, who also produced Amy Schatz‘s documentary series We Have A Dream: The Kids Of The Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest.


Hanks’ longtime producing partner Gary Goetzman (Band Of Brothers, Olive Kitteridge) is also producing, as is Playtone’s Steven Shareshian and Beau Willimon, the creator of House Of Cards who gave Ali one of his early TV roles.


Ali playing his dream role in a limited series based on a Ken Burns documentary for HBO? It’s truly hard to imagine that being anything but great. If you want to see more of Ali as he quickly ascends the ladder towards becoming one of the actors of his generation, you can catch him in the new season of Ramy on Hulu, while he’s on board to star in the Apple movie Swan Song and Marvel’s Blade.



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