Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis is the latest actor to join the musical film adaptation of The Color Purple.
Ellis joins the cast as the role of Mama, Celie’s and Nettie’s mother, “the embodiment of The Great Ancestor and the source of both Celie and Nettie’s awe-inspiring strength.”
Previously, Fantasia was cast as Celie. She also played the role on Broadway, similar to Danielle Brooks, who will also reprise her role as Sofia for the film. Taraji P. Henson plays Shug Avery. Colman Domingo as Mister and Corey Hawkins as Harpo round out the main cast. Halle Bailey will play Young Nettie with H.E.R. playing Squeak.
Louis Gossett Jr. will play Ol’ Mister, with David Alan Grier and Tamela Mann playing Reverend Avery and First Lady, respectively. Deon Cole will play Alfonso. Phylicia Mpasi will play Young Celie, Ciara is Older Nettie and Stephen Hill rounds out the cast as Buster.
Both H.E.R. and Mpasi are making their feature debuts as well in this film.
Blitz Bazawule was announced as the director in 2020, with Marcus Gardley adapting the screenplay. Fatima Robinson will serve as choreographer.
Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg–the director of the 1980s film adaptation of Alice Walker’s book–Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones will produce. Winfrey said of the project that Bazawule was chosen to direct after Jones saw Bazawule’s film, The Burial of Kojo.
“We were all blown away by Blitz’s unique vision as a director and look forward to seeing how he brings the next evolution of this beloved story to life,” said Winfrey in a prior. statement.
The Broadway musical first debuted in 2005, getting 11 Tony nominations. LaChanze won a Tony for her role as Celie. In the 2015 revival, it picked up four other nods, including one for Cynthia Erivo.
The Color Purple is expected to come to theaters Dec. 21, 2023.