Whereas David Simon’s iconic series The Wire took a bunch of relatively unknown actors and turned them into superstars, Simon has brought in some of Hollywood’s elite for his upcoming HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero. Joining the previously cast Oscar Isaac and Catherine Keener are Winona Ryder, Alfred Molina and former Walking Dead star Jon Bernthal. Is an Emmy sweep in this project’s future?
Based on the nonfiction book by former New York Times journalist Lisa Belkin, Show Me a Hero is the true story of a civil rights clusterfuck that happened in New York in the 1980s. Isaac plays Nick Wasicsko, the youngest mayor in Yonkers history. He soon finds himself at the end of a federal court mandate that tasks him with building low-income housing units smack dab in the middle of the white neighborhoods. Predictably, it causes quite a fuss and completely dismantles the municipal government and ruins Wasicsko’s life and political career. Keener will be playing Mary Dorman, an East Yonkers homeowner who realizes something remarkable during the turmoil over getting the low-income houses built.
According to THR, Ryder will make her first major non-guest TV role as Yonkers councilwoman Vinni Restiano, a close confidante to Wasicsko whose housing vote lost her seat, though she was able to re-campaign four years later to become City Council president. Molina, meanwhile, will play Bronx native Hank Spallone, a rough around the edges former NYPD detective who uses his role as a city councilman to build up false arguments in favor of the housing opponents.
Bernthal, whose film career is really kicking off, will play Michael H. Sussman, a Harvard-trained lawyer who puts his skills to work for the NCAAP when it joins the fight in the government’s anti-segregation case involving Yonkers. The series also stars James Belushi, Terry Kinney and Michael Stahl-David.
Molina, who has been as busy as ever in the last few years, can be seen in Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne’s romantic comedy We’ll Never Have Paris and Ira Sachs’ critically acclaimed drama Love is Strange. On the TV side, he stars in El Rey’s action drama Matador and is nominated for an Emmy for his role in Ryan Murphy’s HBO movie The Normal Heart. Ryder, who has been killing it on Drunk History (something Molina also did), was last seen on the big screen in Homefront and will star in next year’s biographical drama Experimenter. Bernthal, whose Mob City came and went without much fanfare, will soon make a war-bound splash in David Ayer’s star-studded Fury and is currently filming Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s drama Me & Earl & the Dying Girl.
Directed by Crash’s Paul Haggis, Show Me a Hero will continue building its cast on the way to its production start later this year.