Five-time 2022 Grammy winner and musician Jon Batiste is joining The Color Purple line-up. Playing Grady, a piano player and husband of Taraji P. Henson’s Shug Avery, Batiste will make his on-screen acting debut in the film, according to Deadline. Batiste joins Ciara, Fantasia Barrino, and Danielle Brooks; the latter two will reprise their roles as Celie and Sofia. Barrino and Brooks were previously announced during Oprah Winfrey’s ABC News special Soul of a Nation Presents: Screen Queens Rising. “I am here representing all things purple to tell you that you are our Sofia,” Winfrey told Brooks during the special. “I’m so happy to pass whatever baton from 35 — almost 40 — years ago to you. And I know you’re gonna kill it.” Both Barrino and Brooks played their respective roles in the stage musical during separate runs. Barrino performed in a 2007 production while Brooks was in the 2015 revival, winning a Tony for her performance.
Oprah Winfrey also told Vanity Fair that Colman Domingo will play the role of Mister, Celie’s abusive husband, and Halle Bailey will be playing the young version of Celie’s sister, Nettie. Working alongside Bailey as her adult counterpart, Entertainment Weekly announced last month Ciara will play the adult version of Nettie. “Honored to be a part of this beautiful ensemble and historic film, The Color Purple. Truly grateful,“ tweeted Ciara on her casting. She acted in one other movie musical, Mama I Want to Sing, in 2009 and in the Adam Sandler film That’s My Boy.
After the actor starred as Miss Hannigan in NBC’s Annie Live! last December, Taraji P. Henson is now set to join the upcoming Color Purple movie musical as jazz singer Shug Avery, Variety reports. Now this, of course, isn’t the first adaptation of The Color Purple — it’s a film adaptation of the 2005 Broadway musical, which itself was adapted from the 1982 Alice Walker novel and 1985 movie. The Lord works in mysterious ways, indeed! Henson joins a cast including H.E.R. as Squeak and Corey Hawkins as Harpo.
The new movie has been brewing for years, with Steven Spielberg (who directed the 1985 take), Quincy Jones (who produced it), and Oprah Winfrey (who was nominated for an Oscar as Sofia) signing on as producers back in 2018. Since then, Blitz Bazawule, who directed Beyoncé’s visual album Black Is King, joined as director, while The Chi’s Marcus Gardley is writing. The movie is currently set to be released on December 20, 2023.
This post has been updated.