Posted on February 12, 2016

Kunta Kinte Fights for His Freedom in the Star-Studded First Trailer for the Remake of Hit 1977 Miniseries Roots

Ashley Collman, Daily Mail, February 12, 2016

The first trailer for the remake of Roots was released on Thursday, promising all of the drama and heartbreak that captivated audiences nearly thirty years ago.

The History Channel’s remake of the 1977 miniseries, based on Alex Haley’s novel of the same name, is due out on Memorial Day and features an all-star cast including Forest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose, Anna Paquin and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Roots follows the struggles of one African American family told over several generations, starting with Kunte Kinte, an African warrior sold into slavery, through to his great-grandchildren fighting for their freedom during the Civil War.

British actor Malachi Kirby will take on the role of Kunta Kinte, the progenitor of the family, who is kidnapped from Africa and brought to Colonial America where he is sold to a Virginia plantation owner.

While he faces abuse at the hands of his new owners for refusing to accept his new name of Toby, he does find friendship after being taken under the wing of an older slave named Fiddler (Forest Whitaker).

Kinte eventually marries a fellow slave named Belle (Emayatzy Corinealdi) and the two have a daughter named Kizzy together.

As Kizzy grows up, the story centers on her friendship with her owner’s niece, who teaches her to read and write.

But when she is caught trying to help a fellow slave escape, she is sold off to another plantation owner who promptly rapes her–impregnating her with a son named George (Regé-Jean Page).

The final act of the epic story takes place just before and after the Civil War, and follows George and his sons fighting for their freedom.

Laurence Fishburne will portray author Alex Haley in the new series. Haley based the novel on his family’s own African roots and enslavement in the American South.

Matthew Goode, James Purefoy and Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris are also set to star in the eight-hour miniseries which will premiere May 30 at 9pm.

Last month, LeVar Burton, who starred as Kunta Kinte in the original series and is an executive producer for the new series, said the Roots remake is arriving at a crucial time.

‘As far as we have come in the area of race relations and the topics of social justice, fairness and equality, we still have a long way to go,’ he told a TV critics’ gathering on January 6.

The first Roots was a television sensation, winning nine Emmys and shattering Nielson ratings for the time.

[Editor’s Note: It is now well established that Alex Haley, the author of Roots, did not merely fake his African family tree but stole parts of it from a novel by a white man. After a five-week plagiarism trial, Haley paid a substantial settlement to the white author, Harold Courlander. Judge Robert J. Ward, who presided over the trial said that Haley had “perpetrated a hoax on the public.”]