Wendell Pierce to play blues legend B.B. King in biopic
Wendell Pierce has officially got the blues.
The actor, known for his performances in The Wire and Treme, announced he will be portraying legendary artist B.B. King in a new film.
"We are official. Preparation has begun on a film where I will be honored to play the great, BB King. Humbled.," Pierce tweeted Monday.
Fans are already praising the casting, citing the duo's resemblance and the actor's acclaimed body of work.
"An icon playing an icon. I can’t to watch you and BB shine together, my friend. Sending so much love to you and this production," actor Jimmi Simpson tweeted.
Musician Tank responded to the news with, "WOW!!!!... You are absolutely the artist to paint this colossal cathedral!!"
The Thrill Is On, titled after King's famous cover of the same name, is a drama centered on the friendship between King and young musician Michael Zanetis, according to IMDb, The script is being written by Zanetis and Melora Donoghue. No other casting has been revealed.
EW has reached out to representatives for Pierce for additional information.
King, who died in 2015 at age 89, has remained one of the most influential and respected blues musicians of all time. With a recording career spanning nearly six decades, King released over 40 studio albums and 16 live albums, won 15 Grammys and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Pierce has been a fixture for decades on television, film, and the stage, and some fans are already hoping The Thrill Is On will finally earn the actor major awards attention, like Ray did for Jamie Foxx (coincidentally, Pierce also appeared in the biopic).
The actor is best known for portraying Bunk Moreland in HBO's The Wire and Antoine Batiste in Treme, also from the network. Pierce has also acted in films like Malcolm X and Selma, shows like Suits and Ray Donovan, and recently starred in Chicago P.D. and the John Krasinski-led Jack Ryan series. Last year, he held the lead role of Willy Loman in the West End's production of Death of a Salesman.
Pierce has a challenge ahead of him, although music has long been a part of his career. To portray a trombonist in Treme, he learned to play the instrument. He also hosted a weekly jazz radio show when he was just starting out, and in 2009, he became the host of the Peabody Award-winning radio program, Jazz at Lincoln Center. In past years, Pierce has also appeared on jazz albums and recorded with acclaimed musicians such as Wynton Marsalis and Kermit Ruffins.