Mahershala Ali to Star in Real-Life Prison Drama ‘Solitary’

Two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali is all set to star in and executive produce the upcoming prison drama ‘Solitary’ from Fox Searchlight and Anonymous Content, reports Variety. The movie tells the real-life story of the longest solitary confinement in the history of the U.S. Based on the 2019 memoir written by Albert Woodfox, the plot explores the 43 years of the author’s solitary confinement in Louisiana’s Angola Prison. Woodfox had to spend 23 hours a day inside a 6-by-9 foot cell. He was allowed to spend an hour a day inside the fenced concrete exercise yard alone.

Woodfox’s lonely confinement ordeal started when he was convicted along with Herman Wallace in 1974 for murdering a prison corrections officer. Wallace, who was released in 2013 after human rights activists raised their voices for the release of the two men, died three days after the release. Woodfox denied committing the murder throughout his imprisonment. He was released in 2016. The man was paid $90,000 for reparation for cruel and unusual punishment from the state of Louisiana. He bought a house in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans with the money and leads a quiet life today. Woodfox published his memoirs, ‘Unbroken by Four Decades In Solitary Confinement, My Story of Transformation and Hope’ in 2019.

Most part of the book narrates the friendship between Woodfox and two other wrongly convicted inmates with whom he organizes protests and hunger strikes demanding reforms at Angola. Born as the son of an illiterate mother and missing father, Woodfox’s childhood was not a memorable one. He grew up among the street violence and gangs in New Orleans neighborhood. Woodfox was first arrested after a high-speed chase in a car which was stolen by his girl friend’s brother. The 18-year-old young man was offered a choice of a four-year term in a city jail or two years at Angola. Woodfox went for the latter though Angola was notorious as one of the toughest prisons in the country with frequent occurrences of violence.

‘Solitary’ is produced by Jamie Patricof and Katie McNeill for Hunting Lane in association with Anonymous Content. Patricof and Mahershala Ali worked together earlier for the 2012 movie ‘The Place Beyond The Pines.’ Ali met Woodfox recently in New Orleans after reading the memoir. The actor won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the 2016 movie ‘Moonlight‘ and won the award for the second time in the 2018 movie ‘Green Book.’ His upcoming projects include the sci-fi thriller ‘Sovereign’ and the animated series ‘Invincible.’

Cover Image Courtesy: Universal Pictures via AP (Green Book)