True Blood star Nelsan Ellis has joined the cast of Universal's James Brown biopic Get on Up.

The actor will play Bobby Byrd, the Godfather of Soul's longtime friend and musical collaborator, which is said to be one of the bigger roles in the film, behind Chadwick Boseman as James Brown. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are also co-starring in this drama that takes a look at the revered musician's life from his impoverished childhood to his ascent as one of the most influential artists of all time.

Tate Taylor (The Help) is directing from a screenplay by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and Steven Baigelman. Brian Grazer is producing for Imagine Entertainment, alongside The Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger, Victoria Pearman and Erica Huggins. Production is scheduled to begin next month in Mississippi.

Nelsan Ellis most recently starred in The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Lee Daniels' the Butler.