From one generation to the next. LeVar Burton recently spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about History’s upcoming Roots reboot.
Burton starred as Kunta Kinte in the original 1977 mini-series about a young African man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the United States. Based on Alex Haley’s novel, the mini-series went on to become one of the most-watched shows in television history. The reboot stars Malachi Kirby as Kunta, alongside Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Anika Noni Rose.
Burton, who executive produced the reboot, said the new version is made for younger people who didn’t see the original:
There is a whole generation of Americans who don’t know the story, don’t have a connection to Roots. It was still very daunting to even contemplate. But I felt that there was merit in trying. And if I could help make it as good as it could be, it would be much better than just sitting on the sidelines.”
Director Will Packer added that the new version will not shy away from the atrocities of slavery:
The common perception is, ‘Oh, there have been so many slave movies. Really? Have there really been that many? How do you get, especially that younger generation, to embrace this? Because at the end of the day, that’s why we’re all here. That’s the challenge. Will it have the same impact as the original? Will 85 percent of households be watching? No, never again will that happen. But it can have a different impact. These filmmakers did an amazing job of not shying away from the atrocities. But it’s not just about the pain. It’s really about courage and survival. It’s inspirational, and it’s aspirational, and those are the elements that I want to get our youth to embrace. That’s the message.”
The new Roots mini-series debuts on May 30th.
What do you think? Have you seen the original Roots? Will you watch the remake?