As Hollywood slowly realizes the talent Kelvin Harrison Jr. has, director Julius Onah has known all along.
Variety has reported that the duo, who previously worked together on the incredible award-winning drama Luce, will collaborate once again for the Jean-Michel Basquiat biographical film, titled Samo Lives.
Beyond T shirts at Uniqlo and posters you hung in your dorm room, Basquiat was an icon and the film, which will be developed and financed by Endeavor Content, will put shine on the life, career and impact of the New York-born, Haitian-Puerto Rican American artist whose groundbreaking work and street art defined the Neo-expressionism arts movement of the 1980s.
Samo Lives also marks the first time a Black filmmaker has helmed a feature Basquiat’s life.
About damn time.
In a statement on the film’s website, Onah wrote about his personal connection to Basquiat and said of Harrison: “Kelvin’s ability to locate and channel the spirit of whoever he inhabits is transcendent. The sensitivity and soulfulness of Kelvin will bring is the reason why I know the story I’m seeking to tell will truly honor Jean-Michel’s legacy.”
In 1983, Basquiat became the youngest artist to exhibit at the Whitney Biennial in New York, at just 22 years old. The acclaimed artist died on August 12, 1988 at the age of 27, but his work continues to make a great impact on the art world. At a Sotheby’s auction in 2017, Basquiat’s painting “Untitled” sold for $110.5 million, becoming one of the most expensive paintings ever purchased and subsequently raising the bar for an American artist at auction.
Harrison recently starred in another noteworthy feature Cyrano opposite Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett. The musical film directed by Joe Wright is an awards season contender and is set to open in select theaters on Jan uary 28, before expanding on February 4. He will also voice a young Scar in Barry Jenkins’ prequel to The Lion King.
And if you have the chance, watch Onah’s Luce on Hulu and The Cloverfield Paradox on Netflix and you’ll see how talented this filmmaker is.