Forest Whitaker has signed on to star in John Wells’ “Emperor of Ocean Park” series set at MGM+. He joins previously announced cast members Grantham Coleman (“Lawman: Bass Reeves”), Tiffany Mack (“Jessica Jones”), and Paulina Lule (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D”).
He’ll play Judge Oliver Garland, a notable name in national politics and the judicial system as well as the leader of his family. “He is stern, intelligent, calculating, and proud. As a Black man in America, navigating unwelcoming and often hostile environments, he has formed a hard exterior—that he’s come to rely on as a shield. He is a devoted father whose commitment to his family simultaneously bolsters and undercuts his deeply and rigidly held conservative principles,” reads the description.
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“I’m excited to be playing Judge Oliver Garland, and thank John Wells, Sherman Payne, and Michael Wright for this opportunity to join the cast and crew of Emperor of Ocean Park, as we bring Stephen L. Carter’s extraordinary novel to life,” said Whitaker.
“Emperor of Ocean Park” follows Talcott Garland (Grantham Coleman), an Ivy League law professor whose quiet life is quickly upended by the death of his father, Judge Oliver Garland, who seemingly died of a heart attack. “The nature of the judge’s death is questioned by Tal’s sister, Mariah (Tiffany Mack), a former journalist and inveterate conspiracy theorist, who believes that the judge, a failed Black nominee to the Supreme Court, met with foul play,” per the official description.
“Forest Whitaker brings his unique gravitas and grace to every role he plays,” said Michael Wright, head of MGM+. “We are beyond fortunate that Forest will inhabit the complex and layered role of Judge Oliver Garland, and once again put his unparalleled stamp on an MGM+ Original Series.”
“We are delighted and honored to have Forest Whitaker joining the cast of ‘Emperor of Ocean Park,’” said Wells. “He’s who we always hoped would agree to play Judge Garland and his addition to our talented cast is very exciting.”
John Wells will executive produce through his John Wells Productions banner alongside Erin Jontow, Sherman Payne, shukree Tilghman, and Damian Marcano (“Lawman: Bass Reeves”), who will also direct multiple episodes. Payne, who also serves as showrunner, wrote the first episode, which will be directed by Marcano. The series is produced by JWP in association with Warner Bros. Television, where JWP is under an overall deal.
“I’m incredibly excited for the legendary Forest Whitaker to join ‘Emperor of Ocean Park,’” said Payne. “Portraying the patriarch of our onscreen family, Forest brings thoughtfulness, leadership, and unimpeachable talent to an already incredible cast. Since the very first draft, Forest has been my dream candidate for this role, and it is truly humbling that we are now working together to bring this story to life.”
Payne is represented by WME, Entertainment 360, and McKuin Frankel Whitehead. Carter and the novel are represented by Lynn Nesbit from Janklow & Nesbit, and Bob Bookman. Marcano is represented by Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston and Joel VanderKloot.
Whitaker is represented by Linden Entertainment and WME.
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