Derek Luke has replaced Wesley Snipes in a lead role in Miracle at St. Anna, the WWII drama that Spike Lee is directing in Italy, according to Variety. Touchstone is in talks for domestic distribution rights on the independently financed film.
Snipes withdrew because it became too difficult for him to leave the U.S. and shoot in Italy while he fights federal tax-fraud charges.
Luke, who plays an Army Ranger in Afghanistan in the Robert Redford-directed Lions for Lambs, is re-enlisting in the Army, circa WWII, and joins an ensemble that includes John Turturro, James Gandolfini, Michael Ealy, Omar Benson and Tory Kittles.
Luke will play one of four members of the U.S. Army's all-black 92nd Division who get separated from their squad behind enemy lines. The soldiers, bitter about racism and the feeling that their own government treats its enemy better than it does them, finds humanity in the small Tuscan village of St. Anna. James McBride wrote the script.