Jon Batiste To Make Acting Debut In The Color Purple Movie Musical

A big screen adaptation of the musical version of "The Color Purple" has been in the works for a number of years now. In 2018, two key names from the 1985 feature film joined forces with the creative minds behind the 2005 Broadway musical when Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Scott Sanders, and Quincy Jones announced that they would be producing a new musical film based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the struggles of a Black woman from the American South in the early 20th century.

Two years later, fresh off his acclaimed collaboration with Beyoncé for the Disney+ visual album "Black is King," Warner Bros. brought in Ghana-born filmmaker Blitz Bazawule to direct the feature film incarnation of the "Color Purple" musical that earned a Grammy, an Emmy, and a number of Tony awards during its three-year run.

Now, with casting announcements pouring in over the last few months since production has started, "The Color Purple" has added another Academy Award winner to the cast. However, despite what you may be thinking when you hear that accolade, this project actually marks this performer's acting debut.

That fine mister...

According to Variety, Grammy winner and bandleader for "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" Jon Batiste has joined the star-studded cast of "The Color Purple." As mentioned, Batiste already has an Oscar under his belt, which he shares with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for composing the score for Disney and Pixar's 2020 film "Soul." 

The suave, soulful musician is set to play Grady, who was portrayed in the original film by Bennet Guillory. Batiste's Grady is the husband to Taraji P. Henson's Shug Avery. It's not exactly a huge role to kick off Batiste's acting career, but it's surely very meaningful to be a part of this landmark tale that played an integral role in launching the careers of Whoopi Goldberg, Cynthia Erivo, and Jennifer Hudson. If his acting skills are as good as his musical skills, then Batiste should start clearing out more shelf space for all the additional awards in his future.

On top of the extremely talented Batiste and Henson being a part of the cast, the ensemble includes a number of other heavy hitters. Reprising their roles from the Broadway production, former "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino stars in the lead role of Celie and "Peacemaker" regular Danielle Brooks returns as Sofia. They'll be joined by recording artists Ciara and H.E.R. as Nettie and Squeak, respectively. There's also "Straight Outta Compton" breakout star Corey Hawkins as Harpo, Colman Domingo as "Mister" Albert Johnson, comedian Deon Cole as Alfonso, and "King Richard" star Aunjanue Ellis as Celie and Nettie's Mama. The cast is rounded out by Halle Bailey as Young Nettie, David Alan Grier as Reverend Avery, and Louis Gossett Jr. as Ol' Mister.

"The Color Purple" is set to premiere in theaters on December 20, 2023, before arriving on HBO Max.