Mahershala Ali set to play Jack Johnson in six-part series “Unruly” on HBO
HBO is currently developing a six-part series on the life of former World Heavyweight champion Jack Johnson. “Unruly” is based on the PBS documentary “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.”
Two-time Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali is set to play the role of the former Heavyweight great. Additionally, the biopic will be written by playwright Dominique Morisseau and produced by Tom Hanks’ production company, Playtone.
Furthermore, Ali will serve as Executive Producer. Having previously portrayed Johnson in the 2000 revival of the play “The Great White Hope”, he has stated one of his goals as an actor was a more “in-depth” role as Johnson. As he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017,
“I really just want the opportunity to go on the hero’s journey. I’ve never done that”.
Unruly has been described as “an unapologetically Black, no-holds-barred telling of Johnson’s life”. Moreover, it follow the first Black heavyweight champion’s rise to greatness. Also it will chronicle the costs he paid for his skin color and defiance.
The timing of this announcement and project cannot go without notice. Johnson was truly someone ahead of his time. Bold and daring, the man known as “The Galveston Giant” refused to belittled and bogged down by bombardment of white supremacy and Jim Crow Segregation.
In the aftermath of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, the issue of race and social justice is dead-center at the nation’s consciousness. It’s ironic and interesting of HBO to now do a series on a Black man who was the definition of un-bossed and un-bought.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.