Academy Award winning actor Mahershala Ali has been tapped to play boxing icon Jack Johnson for an HBO limited series currently in development. Unruly is the title of the project and will be, as described, an “unapologetically Black, no-holds-barred telling of Johnson’s life.” The six-part series will explore the life story of Johnson — from his beginnings in the sport, challenges concerning race in society and rise to success as the first Black heavyweight boxing champion.
Tony-nominated book writer Dominique Morisseau is attached to write and executive produce Unruly with Mahershala Ali serving as executive producer. Other names attached to producing credits include Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. The series is based on the PBS documentary directed by Ken Burns titled Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.
Ali is actually playing Johnson again, whom he was casted as in the 2000 stage production of The Great White Hope. Unruly would also bring the 46-year-old actor back to HBO as he starred in the third season of the network’s True Detective series for which he earned an Emmy nomination.
In other entertainment news, a new version of A24’s Midsommar now includes a foreword from Martin Scorsese.