British star Daniel Kaluuya will star in upcoming Netflix movie The Upper World, based on a Young Adult fantasy novel with a time-bending structure and a South London setting.
The movie is based on the novel by physicist-turned-author Femi Fadugba, who applied his background in quantum physics to creating the story about a boy who can float between the past and the future, according to Variety.
Oscar-nominated actor Kaluuya will co-produce and star in the lead role of Esso, a young man who, according to The Upper World synopsis, “is caught in a deadly feud and on the verge of expulsion when he realises he has an unexpected gift: access to a world where he can see glimpses of the past and the future. A generation away, Rhia is walking to football practice in 2035, unaware that the mysterious stranger she’s about to meet desperately needs her help to avert a bullet fired 15 years ago”.
Fadugba revealed the real-life tragedy that inspired the story: “When I was at university, I wrote a quantum physics paper that got published in the same journal that Einstein shared many of his famous ideas in. It led to me receiving a national award and the unforgettable opportunity to make a speech at the House of Commons.
“On the same night as the speech, I came home to Peckham, where blue and white tape fenced off a crime scene on the estate. A kid had been stabbed. He was 15, tops.”
“A 20-minute bus ride was all that separated those two completely different worlds,” he said. “But throughout my life, I’ve also lived in places like Kigali, Somerset, Oxford and Philadelphia, which has always made me wonder: how do I reconcile these contrasting environments I grew up in with each other? And how do I make some of the tough questions in life ‘add up’ the way they do in these equations?”
Fadugba hit on the “mad realisation” of combining the physics of time-travel with the story of a kid from South London idea.
He aspired to make the idea strong enough that “the nerds, the hustlers, the jocks (and the rest of us in between) would all want to read it”.
It seems to have worked. Sequels to The Upper World will be published by Penguin UK and HarperCollins US in mid-2021 and early 2022 respectively.
Kaluuya, who grew up on a council estate in Kentish Town, North London, was nominated as Best Actor at the 2018 Academy Awards for his performance in Get Out. The same year he won the BAFTA Rising Star Award.