The Old Guard Director Signs On For An Epic Film With Viola Davis

Viola Davis in Widows

This past weekend saw the release of Netflix’s latest original movie, The Old Guard. Based on the same-named comic book by Greg Rucka, who also wrote the film’s script), The Secret Life of Bees’ Gina Prince Bythewood handled directing duties on The Old Guard (thus making this her comic book movie debut rather than the in-limbo Silver & Black). Now word’s come in that she’s already lined up a new movie that will star How To Get Away With Murder and The Help’s Viola Davis.

As reported by Variety, Gina Prince Bythewood has been tapped to helm The Woman King, which is based on true events that took place across the 18th and 19th centuries in the Kingdom of Dahomey, which was located within the present-day African country Benin. Viola Davis will play Nanisca, the general of the Kingdom’s all-female unit, and her daughter, who, according to Deadline, will be played by Lupita Nyong’o. Together, they fought the French and neighboring tribes who “violated their honor, enslaved their people and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for.”

In addition to starring in The Woman King, Viola Davis will also produce the movie alongside her husband, Julius Tennon, through their company JuVee Productions, while the other producing parties include Cathy Schulman’s Welle Entertainment and Maria Bello of Jack Blue Productions. Here’s what Davis and Tennon had to say about the upcoming movie in an official statement:

We at JuVee are beyond excited to introduce this incredible story of the Women Warriors of The Dahomey Ahosi tribe to the world. It’s time that they truly occupy their place in history and in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s hands, it will be a gamechanger. This project could not be a more perfect example of our legacy.

This will mark Gina Prince-Bythewood’s fifth directorial endeavor in the feature film realm, with Love & Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees and Beyond the Lights (all of which she also wrote) preceding The Old Guard. Prince-Bythewood also penned Before I Fall and Nappily Ever After, and she also has an extensive TV resume, having directed episodes of shows like Girlfriends, The Bernie Mac Show and Cloak & Dagger, as well as created Shots Fired.

As for her latest movie, The Old Guard follows a group of immortal mercenaries who use their centuries of experience to help the world, but now find themselves fighting to keep their existence a secret right as a new member of this strange group emerges. With a cast boasting , Kiki Layne, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Matthew Schoenaerts, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Van Veronica Ngo, among others, The Old Guard has been met with primarily positive critical reception, and there’s already been talk about making a sequel.

Turning to Viola Davis, in addition to her aforementioned movie and ABC series (the latter of which which concluded in May), her other notable credits in recent years include Fences (for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress), Suicide Squad and Widows, and in addition to The Woman King, she’s also set to appear in The Suicide Squad and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The Woman King sounds like this will be a cool opportunity for Davis to star in a Braveheart-like tale that taps into historical events that many people have presumably not heard about.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates on The Woman King’s development. For now, The Old Guard can be streamed on Netflix, and look through our 2020 release schedule to learn what movies are supposed to hit theaters later this year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.