Forest Whitaker Boards MGM+ Series ‘Emperor of Ocean Park’

Forest Whitaker (Godfather of Harlem) has joined the cast of Emperor of Ocean Park, the new MGM+ suspense thriller inspired by the best-selling novel of the same name from Stephen L. Carter.

From John Wells and Sherman Payne, Emperor of Ocean Park is set in the worlds of politics, Ivy League academia, and the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard. It follows Talcott Garland (Grantham Coleman), an Ivy League law professor whose quiet life is shattered when his father, Judge Oliver Garland, dies of an apparent heart attack. The nature of the judge’s death is questioned by Tal’s sister, Mariah (Tiffany Mack), a former journalist and inveterate conspiracy theorist, who believes that the judge, a failed Black nominee to the Supreme Court, met with foul play.

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Whitaker will portray Judge Oliver Garland, the patriarch of his family and a formidable figure in national politics and the judicial system. He is stern, intelligent, calculating, and proud. As a Black man in America, navigating unwelcoming and often hostile environments, he has formed a hard exterior—that he’s come to rely on as a shield. He is a devoted father whose commitment to his family simultaneously bolsters and undercuts his deeply and rigidly held conservative principles.

“I’m incredibly excited for the legendary Forest Whitaker to join Emperor of Ocean Park,” said Payne in a statement. “Portraying the patriarch of our onscreen family, Forest brings thoughtfulness, leadership, and unimpeachable talent to an already incredible cast. Since the very first draft, Forest has been my dream candidate for this role, and it is truly humbling that we are now working together to bring this story to life.”

Added Whitaker, I’m excited to be playing Judge Oliver Garland, and thank John Wells, Sherman Payne and Michael Wright for this opportunity to join the cast and crew of Emperor of Ocean Park, as we bring Stephen L. Carter’s extraordinary novel to life.”

In addition to Whitaker and Coleman, the cast also includes Tiffany Mack and Paulina Lule.

Emperor of Ocean Park is produced by JWP in association with Warner Bros. Television, where JWP is under an overall deal. Damian Marcano is set to direct multiple episodes. John Wells, Sherman Payne, Damian Marcano, Shukree Tilghman and JWP’s Erin Jontow will serve as executive producers. Payne, who also serves as showrunner, wrote the first episode, which will be directed by Marcano.

Whitaker is represented by Linden Entertainment and WME.

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