Long-awaited TV series Roots has finally made its way to the UK after airing on American television last year. The series is a remake of the 1977 mini-series, which was based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family.
Who does he play? The story starts with Kunta Kinte, a Mandinka warrior from Juffure in West Africa. He is captured by a rival family and sold into slavery, enduring a treacherous ocean journey and trying to start a mutiny before arriving at a tobacco plantation in Virginia in the 1770s. He is renamed Toby, but holds on to his true name.
Where have I seen him before? Malachi Kirby was Wayne Ladlow in EastEnders. He’s also had roles in Doctor Who, Jekyll & Hyde and Black Mirror.
Forest Whitaker – Fiddler
Who does he play? ‘Fiddler’ is a slave who has been picked out by his mistress for his musical abilities. He is put in charge of ‘Toby’ and must persuade him to obey commands – or he will face reprisals from the white men. But Fiddler also has sympathy for Kunta’s situation.
Where have I seen him? Hollywood heavyweightForest Whitaker won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. Most recently he featured as Saw Gerrera in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Laurence Fishburne – Alex Haley
Who does he play? Alex Haley is the author of Roots, who wrote the original book back in the 70s. In the series he traces his family history back to Kunta Kinta.
Where have I seen him before? The Matrix star is currently starring as Nelson Mandela in US mini-series Madiba. He has also reunited with his Matrix co-star Keanu Reeves on the big screen for John Wick: Chapter 2.
Babs Olusanmokun – Omoro Kinte
Who does he play? Omoro Kinte is Kunta’s father, also a Mandinka warrior. He is proud of the family name and has high hopes for his son, though they don’t involve going away to university.
Where have I seen him before? Babatunde Olusanmokun is a Brazilian jujitsu master as well as an actor. He’s had parts in Gotham, Veronica Mars and Law & Order.