Idris Elba, Regina King and LaKeith Stanfield are among the big names to feature in the cast, each of them playing real-life Black figures from the Old West who Samuel believed had been neglected in the white-washed history of the Western genre.
Many of the portrayals are fairly loose depictions of the historical figures, and the story is entirely fictional – but as the film points out, the people themselves very much existed.
Read on for everything you need to know, including who they're playing and where you might have seen them before.
Jonathan Majors plays Nat Love
Who is Nat Love? The real-life Nat Love, also known as “Deadwood Dick,” was a former slave who had a gift for breaking horses and who crossed paths with outlaws like Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.
In the film, Nat suffers a traumatising event at the start of the film that informs every choice he makes thereafter – from becoming an outlaw to confronting Rufus Buck.
What else has Jonathan Majors been in? Majors had a breakout role as one of the leads in HBO horror series Lovecraft Country in 2020, while he debuted as MCU character He Who Remains in Disney Plus series Loki. Previous film roles include playing one of the leads in critically acclaimed 2019 film The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
Idris Elba plays Rufus Buck
Who is Rufus Buck? Buck was a legendary outlaw who headed a ruthless crew famed for their robberies.
In the movie, we first meet him when his former gang, including “Treacherous” Trudy Smith and Cherokee Bill break him out of a prison cell aboard a train, while it also becomes clear that he was responsible for killing Nat's parents and marking him on the forehead.
What else has Idris Elba been in? Elba will need no introduction to UK fans – with a number of significant roles under his belt, notably including Stringer Bell in The Wire and the titular detective in Luther. Recent film roles have included Macavity in Cats and Bloodsport in The Suicide Squad.
Zazie Beetz plays Stagecoach Mary
Who is Stagecoach Mary? In real life, Mary was one of the first Black women mail carriers in the US, while she also owned a restaurant and was known for carrying a shotgun and smoking cigars.
In the film, she also owns a saloon and is Nat Love's love interest.
What else has Zazie Beetz been in? Beetz is well known for her Emmy-nominated role opposite Donald Glover as Vanessa in Atlanta, while she also had a starring role as Sophie in Joker. Other film appearances have included Deadpool 2, High Flying Bird and Lucy in the Sky.
Regina King plays Trudy Smith
Who is Trudy Smith? In real life, Gertrude Smith, who was known as “Treacherous” Trudy Smith, was a gangster, a thief, and a killer, who made her way through a male-dominated world.
In the film Trudy is a loyal servant of Rufus Buck and one of the most important members of his gang.
What else has Regina King been in? King is a hugely acclaimed actor who has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and four Primetime Emmy Awards in her career so far. Notable TV credits include American Crime, The Leftovers, Sevon Seconds and Watchmen, while on the big screen she's had key roles in If Beale Street Could Talk and Flag Day. She also made her feature directorial debut in 2020 with the acclaimed One Night in Miami...
Delroy Lindo plays Bass Reeves
Who is Bass Reeves? Reeves was a US Marshall – upon whom the iconic western character the Lone Ranger was allegedly based – and one of the first Black lawmen who successfully apprehended white criminals.
What else has Delroy Lindo been in? Veteran actor Lindo is well-known for his frequent collaborations with Spike Lee, including West Indian Archie in Malcolm X, Woody Carmichael in Crooklyn, Rodney Little in Clockers, and Paul in last year's Da 5 Bloods, while other prominent credits include Get Shorty, The Cider House Rules and The Good Fight.
LaKeith Stanfield plays Cherokee Bill
Who is Cherokee Bill? In real life, Cherokee Bill – whose actual name was Crawford Goldsby – was a mixed Black and Native American outlaw who was responsible for the murders of eight men. In the film he is another key member of Rufus Buck's gang.
What else has LaKeith Stanfield been in? Stanfield has appeared in a number of acclaimed films in recent years including Sorry To Bother You, Knives Out, and Judas and the Black Messiah, the latter of which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He has also starred in Dope, Get Out and Uncut Gems and has a main role in Atlanta.
RJ Cyler plays Jim Beckwourth
Who is Jim Beckworth? In the film, Beckworth is one of the key members of Nat Love's gang – alongside Bill Pickett – who Cyler describes as "a rambunctious hothead, who’s really sweet." In real life, Beckworth was as a American mountain man, fur trader, explorer, and skilled fighter, who was born into slavery in Virginia.
What else has RJ Cyler been in? Cyler has previously had supporting roles in films such as Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Power Rangers, and White Boy Rick, as well as well as main roles on TV shows such as I'm Dying Up Here and Scream.
Deon Cole plays Wiley Escoe
Who is Wiley Escoe? In the film, Wiley is the conniving mayor of Redwood City and a former member of Rufus Buck’s gang.
Not too much is known about the real Wiley Escoe, but his name first appeared in a list of Black deputy U.S. marshals.
What else has Deon Cole been in? Comedian and actor Cole is best known for his role on Black-ish, while previous film roles have included Friendsgiving and Holiday Rush.
The cast also includes: Danielle Deadwyler (The Haves and the Have Nots) as Cuffee, Edi Gathegi (X-Men: First Class) as Bill Pickett, Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Endings) as Monroe Grimes and DeWanda Wise (She's Gotta Have it) as Eleanor Love.
The Harder They Fall is streaming on Netflix now – if you’ve already seen the film, take a look at our The Harder They Fall ending explainer. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best TV series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide.