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Samuel L. Jackson, John David Washington to Star in ‘The Piano Lesson’ Film Adaptation



August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play The Piano Lesson is set for a film adaptation for Netflix, with Samuel L. Jackson and John David Washington starring after they wrapped a successful Broadway revival alongside Danielle Brooks.

The film will also follow the Netflix adaptation of another August Wilson play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which starred Viola Davis, who also appeared alongside John David Washington’s father, Denzel Washington, in a movie adaptation of another Wilson play, Fences. Denzel Washington and Davis also starred in the 2020 Netflix documentary Giving Voice, which explored the legacy of Wilson as a playwright.

Denzel’s son Malcolm Washington will direct the film adaptation of The Piano Lesson, based on a screenplay he penned with Virgil Williams. Denzel Washington will produce the film along with Todd Black.

The Piano Lesson screen adaptation follows LaTanya Richardson Jackson directing her husband, Samuel L. Jackson, as he starred on Broadway opposite Brooks and John David Washington in Wilson’s stage drama about African Americans wrestling with the painful past.

The ensemble cast for the movie adaptation includes Ray Fisher, Till actress Danielle Deadwyler, Michael Potts and Corey Hawkins. Set in 1936 Pittsburgh during the aftermath of the Great Depression, The Piano Lesson follows the lives of the Charles family in the Doaker Charles household and an heirloom, the family piano, which is decorated with designs carved by an enslaved ancestor and polished with the tears and blood of their late mother.

In 2010, Denzel Washington and Davis both earned Tony Awards for their revival of Fences on Broadway. In 2016, the film adaptation of Fences earned three Academy Awards nominations — for best picture, best actor and best adapted screenplay — and an Academy Award win for Viola Davis.

The Netflix adaptation of The Piano Lesson will be executive produced by Constanza Romero, Jennifer Roth and Katia Washington, Denzel’s daughter.

The Piano Lesson is part of Wilson’s 10-play American Century Cycle and includes Fences and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, with the latter’s film adaptation on Netflix earning five Oscar nominations and two wins for best makeup and hairstyling and best costume design.

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