The cast for New Line Cinema's Shaft is getting bigger and bigger, with actress Alexandra Shipp in final negotiations to play the female lead. No details about the character have been given at this time, but she will join a cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson as John Shaft from the 2000 New Line Cinema remake, and Richard Roundtree as his uncle, also John Shaft, from the original 1971 movie. Jesse T. Usher also came aboard in August to play John Shaft Jr., the estranged son of Samuel L. Jackson's character.
While this project was originally believed to be a Shaft reboot when it was first put into development at Davis Entertainment in 2015, it seems this will follow the continuity of the entire franchise, bringing back both Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Roundtree to reprise their roles. It isn't clear if Alexandra Shipp's character also has a familial connection to the Shaft family, or if she will be playing another character within the world of law enforcement. Regardless, it's possible that we may get some official story details soon, since production is expected to begin next month.
The story centers on Jesse T. Usher's John Shaft Jr., who did follow in his father's footsteps, with a career in law enforcement, but he became determined to be nothing like his dad. He works as an FBI agent specializing in cyber crimes, who reluctantly comes to his father for help to find the man who killed his best friend Karim, while also taking down a drug trafficking and money laundering operation in New York City. Both of their styles is said to be an "uneasy combination of old school meets new school." It isn't clear how many more primary roles are needed to be cast before filming begins.
Director Tim Story takes the helm, working from a script by Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow (The Goldbergs), based on the characters created by Ernest Tidyman in his original 1970 detective novel. Kenya Barris is also producing alongside John Davis from Davis Entertainment, with Ira Napoliello and Marc Fischer serving as executive producers. New Line Cinema has yet to issue a release date at this time. It's possible that this Shaft movie could be ready to hit theaters by late 2018, depending on how smoothly production moves forward, but it isn't known when the studio will be issuing a release date.
Actress Alexandra Shipp has certainly become quite the rising star over the past few years. She made her feature film debut in 2009's Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, which lead to the role of KT Rush on the TV series House of Anubis and Marybeth on Days of Her Lives. Her breakthrough role came in 2014, when she portrayed late singer Aaliya in the Lifetime TV movie Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, which lead to her portrayal of Kim in Best Picture nominee Straight Outta Compton, and the iconic role of Storm in last year's X-Men: Apocalypse. She currently stars in the dark comedy Tragedy Girls, alongside Deadpool star Brianna Hildenbrand, and she will reprise her role as Storm in next year's X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Deadline broke the casting news earlier today.