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Jonathan Rhys Meyers joins 'Stonewall,' a Roland Emmerich joint

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Roland Emmerich
Joe Lederer

The 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City were a landmark moment of the gay civil rights movement, and with a cast that includes Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) and Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors), a new movie about the protest has all the makings of prestigious Oscar bait. And it might be. But the film, scripted by Brothers & Sisters creator Jon Robin Baitz, has a surprising director: Roland Emmerich.

If you know Emmerich, it’s most likely because of his successful track record as a master of CG spectacle and destruction, from blockbusters like Independence Day to last year’s White House Down. He’s infamous for blowing up national landmarks and destroying American cities with natural disasters.

Stonewall tells the story of the riot through the eyes of Danny Winters (Irvine), a young gay man who finds an oasis of acceptance at the Stonewall Inn, where he meets Trevor, a more worldly man (Meyers), just before the pivotal confrontation with police on June 28, 1969. There are likely no explosions or tidal waves in the movie — unless you’re metaphorically talking about emotion.

Emmerich, who recently announced plans to reboot Stargate, just began filming Stonewall in Montreal. The movie also stars Ron Perlman, Joey King, Jonny Beauchamp, and Caleb Landry Jones.