Gary Ross’s Civil War drama, Free State Of Jones, has added rising star Gugu Mbatha-Raw to its ranks. The actress, who’s currently receiving widespread critical praise for her turns in Beyond The Lights and Belle, will be starring opposite Matthew McConaughey in the period drama.
Set during the 1920s and based on a true story, the film revolves around a Confederate soldier named Newton Knight (McConaughey), who defected from the army and chose to kickstart a rebellion. Now considered somewhat of a legendary figurehead during that period of conflict, his band of deserters – The Knight Company – set about creating their own place to call home: the free state of Jones.
In the first role cast outside of McConaughey’s leading part, Mbatha-Raw will be sticking by his side as “Rachel, a slave whose relationship with Knight played a central part in his life.” Their relationship went down in the history books, as Knight entered into a common-law marriage with Rachel after helping establish one of the first mixed-race communities in the area.
Currently split across two production houses, STX Entertainment and IM Global, the film’s acquired a sizeable budget from both, totalling around $65 million. For a period piece, this isn’t unreasonable due to location, production design and costume costs totting up a significant chunk of change. Casting calls for extras went out this week, with producers aiming to complete the shoot in New Orleans and Lafayette from February to May.
Before she graces the screen as Rachel, Mbatha-Raw will continue to stir things up in a variety of movies on her slate. This February she’s poised for a sci-fi adventure in The Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending, followed later this year with courtroom drama The Whole Truth alongside Keanu Reeves and Renee Zellweger. With her star on the rise, we can’t wait to see her turn in Free State Of Jones, which is expected to land sometime in 2016.
Source: The Wrap