It’s always nice to get a bit of interesting casting news on a Friday afternoon. John Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co. is producing the upcoming crime drama Monster (not to be confused with the Charlize Theron serial killer movie, or the upcoming The Monster from director Bryan Bertino). This is a film based on the novel of the same name by Walter Dean Myers, about a young man accused of a crime he claims he did not commit. With filming about to begin in New York, the cast has been rounded out to include Jennifer Hudson, and hip-hop artists A$AP Rocky and Nas.
Monster tells the story of teenage honors student and filmmaker Steve Harmon (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) who is deemed a monster after being charged with a murder he says he didn’t commit. As Steve fights the system accusing him, he moves from being an elite high school student from Harlem to being faced with spending the rest of his life behind bars.
Monster certainly sounds like a topical story, especially given the release of Ava DuVernay’s documentary on the prison-industrial complex and the toll it takes on the lives of African-Americans. With a juvenile being threatened with spending the rest of his life and prison, and the prosecutors describing him as a monster, this is already an intriguing premise for the contemporary moment. The novel by Walter Dean Myers actually takes the form of a screenplay in Steve’s imagination, so it’s tailor-made for a movie adaptation.
Jennifer Hudson, Nas, and A$AP Rocky join an already hefty cast that includes Jennifer Ehle, Tim Blake Nelson, and Jeffrey Wright. The film will be directed by Anthony Mandler, a prolific music video director making his feature film debut with Monster.
Monster will begin principle photography in New York City this week.