Roots Remake Adds Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, & Jonathan Rhys Meyers

The original Roots TV miniseries was a blockbuster ratings hit when it first aired on ABC in 1977. Earlier this year, History and A&E announced a remake of Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family. And now, several key roles have been cast as the new Roots nears production.

Oscar winners Forest Whitaker (pictured above) and Anna Paquin are among the newest performers to sign on for Roots. Whitaker will play Fiddler, a slave who becomes a mentor for the main character, Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby). Louis Gossett Jr. played Fiddler in the original Roots miniseries, which also featured LeVar Burton as Kunta. Paquin will portray Nancy Holt, a Confederate officer’s wife who has her own agenda for the slaves.

The Tudors and Dracula star Jonathan Rhys Meyers has also joined Roots as Tom Lea, a slave owner who desperately attempts to join the South’s high society despite his lack of an education. Anika Noni Rose will play Kizzy, the daughter of Kunta Kinte who was portrayed by Leslie Uggams in the original miniseries. Kizzy’s son, Chicken George will be played by Regé-Jean Page in the remake of Roots. The role of Chicken George was originally portrayed by Ben Vereen.

Former Walking Dead star Chad Coleman also co-stars in the Roots remake as a slave named Mingo, with Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher) as Silla Ba Dibba, and Erica Tazel (Justified) as Matilda, the love interest of Chicken George. Hannibal and Black-ish star Laurence Fishburne will also appear in Roots as Alex Haley, the author of the original novel.

Additionally, Mario Van Peebles and Bruce Beresford have also signed on to direct second and fourth parts of the Roots remake, respectively. Phillip Noyce is directing the first part of Roots, and Thomas Carter is directing the third part. Production has already begun on the new Roots miniseries.

Roots will be simulcast on History, A&E, and Lifetime. A premiere date has not been announced.

Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images