On Oct. 13, 2017, the movie "Marshall" arrives in theaters. It tells the story of how Thurgood Marshall — a lawyer who would later become the first African-American Supreme Court justice in the United States — saved a man's life by proving his innocence. Thurgood (who also argued in front of the Supreme Court on cases like the historic Brown v. Board of Education) spent his earliest working years fighting to defend African Americans who were unjustly accused of crimes because of their skin color. The movie "Marshall" depicts one such case in 1940 and shows how a tough-as-nails lawyer laid the bedrock for what would become the civil rights movement in the United States. In honor of the film's release (which follows the 60-year anniversary of Thurgood's confirmation as a Supreme Court justice), Wonderwall.com is exploring the cast of characters and the stars who've brought this important story back to life. Keep reading to find out more…
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Chadwick Boseman stars as Thurgood Marshall — the first African-American Supreme Court justice — during one of his career-defining cases in 1940.
If you don't know Chadwick Boseman yet, prepare to be on a first-name basis with the rising star from South Carolina, as he is about to headline some of the biggest films in the country in the next year and already has a reputation for playing notable historic figures in the black community. Chadwick got his start in 2000 appearing in small roles on TV shows like "Third Watch" and "Law & Order," but his first major part didn't happen until 2008 when he was cast as Nathaniel Ray on the hit drama "Lincoln Heights." When he left the show in 2009, he took on a leading part on TV's "Persons Unknown," which led him to his first starring movie role in 2012's "The Kill Hole." It wasn't until he played legendary baseball star Jackie Robinson in the 2013 film "42" that Chadwick started to receive critical acclaim and earned leading-man status. He later starred as James Brown in the 2014 biopic "Get on Up" and as the Black Panther in the 2016 action adventure "Captain America: Civil War." 2016 also became the year he produced his first feature-length film, "Message from the King." In 2018, Chadwick is set to reprise his "Captain America" role in the film "Black Panther" followed by "Avengers: Infinity War," where he'll once again take on superhero status. And when he's not busy starring in films that raise our collective consciousness, he's using his platform to speak about issues that matter to him, including politics. "First of all, I'm not just an actor, I'm an artist," he's said. "That's why I have the platform. We're here to speak truth to power."
Josh Gad (left) stars as Sam Friedman in the historical biopic "Marshall." Sam was a lawyer hired by the NAACP to assist Thurgood Marshall (played by Chadwick Boseman, right) in defending a black man named Joseph Spell who'd been falsely accused, by his employer, of rape.
Josh Gad could be the guy next door, if your neighbor was a mega-talented Broadway and film star who also happens to write comedy like it's no big deal. The bespectacled cutie won his first on-screen appearance in the indie flick "Mary and Joe" in 2002 and in 2005, he made his Broadway debut in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." From there, Josh starred in numerous films, including "21," "The Rocker," "Love & Other Drugs" and "Jobs." He also appeared in several hit TV shows like "Back to You," "Woke Up Dead," "Californication" and "The Daily Show." In 2009, he got his start writing screenplays with the comedy "The Lost Nomads: Get Lost!," "Rent Control," "1600 Penn" and Seasons 1 and 2 of "Gigi: Almost American." In 2012, he returned to Broadway to star in the hit musical "Book of Mormon," which earned him a Tony nomination and a Grammy Award. While those accomplishments alone would be enough for an ordinary man, Josh has proven he's extraordinary by also lending his voice to a long list of animated shows and films, like "American Dad!" "The Cleveland Show," "Marmaduke" — plus he famously played Olaf in "Frozen." Josh's 2017 films include "Beauty and the Beast," "Marshall" and "Murder on the Orient Express" and he's already filming the 2018 drama "Party of the Century" in which he'll play Truman Capote. When Hurricane Irma struck Florida in 2017, Josh's "Frozen" co-star Kristen Bell took part in rescuing his family, including his parents and siblings, who were stranded in the state, providing them shelter in her hotel to ride out the storm safely. He thanked her via Twitter, calling her "an angel sent from above."
Sterling K. Brown (right) stars in the 2017 biopic "Marshall." In the film, Sterling portrays a man named Joseph Spell who, in 1940, was accused by his employer of sexual assault and later defended by Thurgood Marshall (played by Chadwick Boseman, left) in court.
Admit it, you see Sterling K. Brown and automatically think Randall from "This Is Us." It's okay, we've done it too. The truth is, Sterling has been a powerhouse on-screen since 2002 when he appeared in "Brown Sugar" and made his Off-Broadway debut in productions of both "Twelfth Night" and "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui." In 2002, he also landed his first recurring TV role on the series "Third Watch," followed by appearances on shows like "Starved," "Supernatural," "Person of Interest" and "Army Wives." In between filming, he made time to return to the theater, starring in a stage production of "MacBeth" in 2006. In 2016, along with his groundbreaking role as Randall in "This Is Us," Sterling starred in 10 episodes of the crime anthology "American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson" as district attorney Christopher Darden. The performance earned Sterling multiple nominations including for a SAG Award, an Emmy (which he won), an NAACP Image Award and a Golden Globe. 2017 has proven to be a busy year for Sterling too. Along with winning his second Primetime Emmy for his work on "This Is Us," he starred in "Marshall," the miniseries "A Bunch of Dicks," and made a guest appearance on "Insecure." He's got three projects in the works for 2018, including "Hotel Artemis," "Black Panther" (where he'll rejoin his "Marshall" co-star Chadwick Boseman) and "The Predator." Sterling has been married since 2007 to Ryan Michelle Bathe, who is the mother of his two children.
Kate Hudson stars as Eleanor Strubing — the woman who falsely accused her chauffeur, Joseph Spell, of sexual assault — in the movie "Marshall."
Kate Hudson began acting in 1996 but didn't become a household name until her provocative 2000 role in the dramatic comedy "Almost Famous," which earned her Oscar and SAG Award nominations as well as a Golden Globe. The daughter of actress Goldie Hawn and musician Bill Hudson (although she was raised by Goldie's significant other, actor Kurt Russell), it would seem Kate had performing in her blood. She proved herself a natural talent outside of her famous mother's shadow, taking on a variety of roles in films like "Alex & Emma," "Raising Helen," "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," "Nine" and "Good People." In addition to the 2017 biopic "Marshall," Kate is set to take on another real-life role as Jennifer Lee Pryor in the 2018 biographical film "Richard Pryor: Is it Something I Said?" Kate has two sons, one with ex-husband Chris Robinson and one with ex-fiance Matt Bellamy. She's rumored to be engaged to her current boyfriend, musician and music producer Danny Fujikawa.
Roger Guenveur Smith stars as Walter White — the executive secretary of the NAACP in 1940 — in the 2017 biopic "Marshall."
Chances are you recognized Roger Guenveur Smith's famous face even if you didn't know his name. That's likely because he's established himself as a solid character actor on both the big and small screens. His film credits go all the way back to 1988 in the Spike Lee-directed musical "School Daze" followed by roles on series like "A Different World," "Oz," and "All My Children." He's also starred in numerous movies, such as "Poetic Justice," "He Got Game," "American Gangster" and "Caller ID." In 2017, along with his role in "Marshall," Netflix picked up Roger's powerful one-man show, "Rodney King." The performance, which first came to life in 2014, reunited Roger with director Spike Lee and has received critical acclaim.
Dan Stevens stars as Loren Willis, the lead prosecutor in the case against Joseph Spellman, in the 2017 film "Marshall."
British actor Dan Stevens has been just about everywhere these days. Whether you first spied his on-screen talent on "Downton Abbey" or fell in love with him as Beast in "Beauty and the Beast," chances are you couldn't get enough of this beguiling star. Other notable roles Dan's brought to life include Kenny Kristo in "A Walk Among the Tombstones" and Sir Lancelot in "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb." Up next for Dan is a return to his superhero role as David Haller on Season 2 of the FX original series "Legion" and the lead role in the holiday movie "The Man Who Invented Christmas," which arrives in theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. Dan's been married since 2009 and has three children.
Keesha Sharp (left) stars as Vivian "Buster" Marshall, wife of attorney Thurgood Marshall, in the 2017 film "Marshall."
Keesha Sharp has spent the last 17 years in Hollywood lighting up both the big and small screens (just look at her smile, it's infectious). She appeared in numerous small roles during the first five years of her career, finally landing a major part on the hit TV comedy "Girlfriends" in 2002 and "Everybody Hates Chris" in 2005. From 2010 to 2012, Keesha starred as Gigi on the TV series "Are We There Yet?" Although the show was cancelled, Keesha kept herself visible by appearing on shows like "Melissa & Joey," "Bad Teacher" and "Instant Mom" before landing the role of Dale Cochran, attorney Johnnie Cochran's wife, on the TV anthology series "American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson" (which cast her alongside her "Marshall" co-star Sterling K. Brown) in 2016. That same year, she signed on to star as Trisha Murtaugh on the TV drama "Lethal Weapon," which was renewed for a second season in 2017. Up next for Keesha are roles in the movies "Not Born," "Don't Look There" and "You Have a Nice Flight." Keesha has been married for 20 years to Bradford Sharp. They share one son together.
Jussie Smollett (right) stars as poet and social activist Langston Hughes in the 2017 biopic "Marshall."
Yes, Jussie Smollett is one of our favorite characters from "Empire" (Jamal Lyon), but did you know that he also starred in one of our favorite childhood movies from 1992? Believe it or not, young Jussie was a teammate on "The Mighty Ducks" — which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. Since then, he's appeared on shows like "Queen," "Coach" and "Cro" and in 2012, he starred in the romantic dramedy "The Skinny," a film about black LGBT college friends spending a weekend in New York City. Landing the groundbreaking role of Jamal on "Empire" in 2015 helped solidify Jussie's star power and gave him a vehicle to discuss his own sexuality. Although Jussie claims he's never been in the closet, he confirmed his homosexuality in a backstage interview with Ellen DeGeneres in 2015, becoming one of the few openly gay minority stars in Hollywood. Along with his portrayal of poet Langston Hughes in the 2017 film "Marshall," Jussie also stars in "Alien: Covenant" and made a crossover appearance as his "Empire" character Jamal on the new FOX musical drama "Star." Jussie has been romantically linked to football star Michael Sam and director Anthony Hemingway.