EXCLUSIVE: Fences is certainly swinging for the fences, bringing together one heck of a stage reunion for the feature film. Mykelti Williamson and Russell Hornsby are reprising their Broadway roles for Denzel Washington’s feature adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play. Williamson steps into the role of Gabriel Maxson, and Hornsby will again play Lyons Maxson. In addition, Jovan Adepo (The Leftovers) will star in the pivotal role of Cory, and Saniyya Sidney (Roots, Hidden Figures) will star as daughter Raynell. They all join Washington (as Troy) and previously announced Viola Davis (as Rose).
Davis, Williamson and Hornsby co-starred with Washington and Davis in a recent Broadway revival of the play that ended up winning Tonys for the two leads. Scott Rudin and Todd Black are producing the movie with Washington for Paramount Pictures.
Written in 1985, Fences examines race relations and follows a man, Troy, who dreamed of being a baseball great but ended up collecting trash. Troy lives with his wife, son Cory and his younger brother Gabriel, an ex-soldier whose war injury to his head has caused him psychological damage. Lyons is a musician and Troy’s son from a previous relationship.
Washington has been working with Angels In America playwright and Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner (who is getting an associate producer credit on the film) and had been location scouting in Pittsburgh over the past couple of months. The hope is that Fences will be made in time for this year’s awards season; the production schedule is currently set between 34-40 days. It will go before the cameras April 22.
Fences has had a long history in trying to make it on the big screen. Wilson has previously mentioned that an African-American should direct the project. Washington has a deal with HBO to mount a number of Wilson plays (specifically his Pittsburgh Cycle) as features. Fences is the sixth in this series, but was excluded from the HBO deal.
Williamson is repped by Paradigm, Frontline Management and attorneys Myman Greenspan. Hornsby, who stars on NBC’s Grimm, is repped by ICM Partners, Cohn/Torgan Management and Hansen Jacobson. Adepo is repped by Gersh and Powerline Entertainment. Sidney is repped by Abrams Artists Agency and manager Constance Tillotson of LA Management.