Guy Pearce, well-known for his starring role in Momento, as well as L.A. Confidential, has been cast in a new ABC limited series When We Rise about the LGBT Civil Rights movement. Mary-Louise Parker and Rachel Griffiths will also star, Variety reports.
When We Rise will be a seven-part miniseries in which the premiere episode will run two hours while the latter will run the standard single hour. The plot will stem from the actions leading up to as well as the aftermath of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, a night in which transgender and gay individuals attempted to take back power from persecutors in a well-known queer hotspot.
The plot will then continue in a dramatic run through the 1970s, where Pearce’s character comes in, to the infamously dark 1980s and onward to modern day, which is both a combination of brilliant achievement for the LGBT community as well as rampant decay of those gained rights.
Dustin Lance Black, who crafted the script for Milk and earned himself an Oscar for those efforts, will be the man behind the words and the production of When We Rise. Black will also partake as executive producer, joined by Laurence Mark, who worked on Dreamgirls and iRobot, as well Bruce Cohen and Gus Van Slant, who both worked with Black in the conception of Milk.
Pearce will take on the role of gay rights activist Cleve Jones, who originally joined the movement back in 1972–on the cusp of the AIDS epidemic–and ended up creating the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, a famous piece of art that stitched together fabric squares containing the names of every member of the gay community lost to AIDS during the crisis. Cleve Jones will also be seen working with the aforementioned Supervisor Harvey Milk, who was though the main name in Black’s last award-winning work will likely take more of a backseat role in this rendition of the LGBT movement.
Parker (Weeds) has previously played a role in an LGBT work before, starring in the 1991 comedy Fried Green Tomatoes–though the film version largely plays down the lesbian traits that the original book spotlights. In When We Rise, she will play lesbian women’s rights leading activist Roma Guy.
Griffiths (Six Feet Under, Saving Mr. Banks), will then play the role of Guy’s wife, activist Diane, who co-founded the Women’s Building with Guy and has done legions of work for women’s rights for the last three decades.
The trio join a growing cast list for the miniseries, which already includes Austin Mackenzie, who is playing a younger incarnation of Pearce’s character Cleve Jones; Emily Skeggs, who in turn will play a younger Parker, or Roma Guy; Fiona Dourif, who will play a younger version of Griffiths’s Diane; and Jonathon Majors, who will take on one of his first on-screen roles as a young Ken Majors, whose adult version is yet to be cast.
On writing a script for a show that attempts to encapsulate the political strife of the LGBT Civil Rights movement, Dustin Lance Black said this in a statement:
“It’s been the honor of my life to research and craft these stories of family, diversity and equality over the past three years. To have collaborators of this caliber sign on to help bring these stories to life is a tremendous vote of confidence, and I hope a testament to the relevancy and necessity of our continued march toward justice for all.”
Casting will continue for When We Rise, followed by an viable air date.