Keri Russell and Mahershala Ali, who plays Remy Danton on Netflix’s House of Cards, have nabbed a key roles in The Free State of Jones, the Matthew McConaughey historical drama being directed by Gary Ross.
Robert Simonds’ newly launched film and television studio STX Entertainment is co-financing the project and will distribute. Route One/ Union Investment Partners and Vendian Entertainment are co-financing, with IM Global overseeing international distribution.
The film is currently in pre-production in Louisiana.
McConaughey is portraying Newton Knight, a soldier for the Confederacy during the Civil War who became disillusioned with the South’s cause, fled the battlefield, rallied supporters, and declared a safe haven in Jones County, an area of southeastern Mississippi in opposition to the Confederacy.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw is already on board set as a slave who became Knight’s common-law wife.
Russell will play will Knight’s wife who leaves him. When she sees him next, he is married to a slave.
Ali will play a runaway slave whom Knight treats as an equal and who tries to rally black people to register for voting.
Ali, repped by WME, is also inhabiting the character of Boggs in two parts of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.
Russell is genereating praise for her TV work on The Americans and last appeared on the big-screen with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. She is also repped by WME.