Forest Whitaker Series 'Godfather of Harlem' Casts 'Selma' Actor to Reprise Malcolm X Role

Forest Whitaker will be portraying the infamous Harlem legend, Bumpy Johnson, in a Epix series, 'Godfather of Harlem.'

Nigél Thatch

Image via Getty/Araya Diaz/WireImage)

Nigél Thatch

Forest Whitaker is heading to the small screen for Epix's crime drama Godfather of Harlem, and playing Malcolm X will be Nigél Thatch, who played the Civil Rights icon in Ava Duvernay's 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. film Selma. Whitaker will play ruthless crime boss Bumpy Johnson, who ruled Harlem in his heyday but returns in the early 1960s after a 10-year stint in jail to find the Italian mob has taken over the neighborhood. He decides to go up against the Genovese family to reclaim his place, and in doing so partners with Malcolm X.

DuVernay praised Thatch for his performance of X. "I cast Malcolm X after receiving a tweet from actor Nigél Thatch telling me he was the one," read her 2014 tweet. "He was."

It seems the Godfather of Harlem team thought so too. 

The show, executive produced by Whitaker, comes from Narcos co-creators Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein and features Vincent D’Onofrio, Ilfenesh Hadera, and Antoinette Crowe-Legacy. D’Onofrio isn't new to the crime boss world, having starred in Daredevil as the fictional Kingpin. Hadera had a small role in another Marvel/Netflix series, The Punisher. (Although she is best known as Opal Gilstrap in Netflix's She's Gotta Have It and as Bobby Axelrod's secretary Deb Kawi in the Showtime series Billions.) Crowe-Legacy, who has two credits to her name, is definitely hype to be joining the cast. 

"So happy and excited to be a part of this amazing cast! I feel so blessed to be starting my career with such an beautiful project and truly wonderful people," read an Instagram post. "I know it’s going to be something truly amazing and I am so happy that I am one of the people who gets to tell this story."

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