Jon Batiste to make feature acting debut in ‘The Color Purple’

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Jon Batiste to make feature acting debut in ‘The Color Purple’

After winning the top prize at this year’s Grammys, Jon Batiste is set to make his feature acting debut in The Color Purple.

Warner Bros. is behind the feature adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical, itself an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel by Alice Walker, and on which the Oscar-nominated Steven Spielberg-directed 1985 movie was based. The story centers on a woman named Celie Harris and tracks her lifelong struggles as an African American woman living in the South during the early 1900s.

Batiste is set to portray Grady, Shug Avery’s (played by Taraji P. Henson) husband, a sweet-talking piano man.

Batiste would join a previously reported cast of Henson, Fantasia Barrino, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, H.E.R., and others.

Blitz Bazawule, the filmmaker behind the Beyoncé-fronted Black Is King, is set to direct the fresh take on the musical. Marcus Gardley penned the screenplay, adapted from Marsha Norman’s book and Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray’s score. The movie is in preproduction, with casting beginning to come together and chemistry reads happening now.

Winfrey, who made her own feature acting debut in Spielberg’s The Color Purple and earned an Oscar nomination, is producing via her Harpo Films banner with Spielberg and his Amblin Entertainment. Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones, both of whom were behind the Broadway musical, will also produce. Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Carla Gardini, Adam Fell and Mara Jacobs are executive producing.

Warners has set a release date of Dec. 20, 2023.

Batiste, who is repped by CAA and Eisner, is the bandleader and musical director of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. He won five Grammys at the 2022 awards show with his latest studio album, We Are, winning album of the year. He previously earned an Oscar for best original score for the Pixar film Soul.