Rising star Lakeith Stanfield has landed the lead role in Prince of Cats, a retelling of Romeo and Juliet from Tybalt's perspective, based on the graphic novel by Ron Wimberly. Legendary Pictures won the adaptation rights in an auction, and are reportedly developing the movie as a star vehicle for Stanfield.
After making his feature film debut in the critically-acclaimed indie drama Short Term 12, Stanfield has quickly become one of the hottest new talents in Hollywood. He has recently had roles in the Oscar-winning horror Get Out, Sundance darling Sorry To Bother You, and Donald Glover's highly-praised FX series Atlanta.
Deadline reports that Stanfield is set to star in Prince of Cats, with Selwyn Sefyu Hinds adapting the story for the big screen. Originally published under DC's Vertigo Imprint, the graphic novel is set in '80s Brooklyn and features lines from the original Shakespeare play, interspersed with contemporary references and slang. Tybalt, the protagonist of the graphic novel, was the main antagonist of Romeo and Juliet, and is killed by Romeo in retaliation for the death of the Mercutio - setting off the chain of events that leads to the story's tragic end.
Hinds recently adapted George R.R. Martin novel Who Fears Death for HBO, and was formerly the editor-in-chief of hip-hop magazine The Source. Janet and Kate Zucker, of Zucker Production, are also on board to produce, while Jon Silk (Gangster Squad) and Ali Mendes (Godzilla: King of the Monsters) will also oversee development.
Prince of Cats is far from the first modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, which has been adapted many, many, many times (including that one movie where Romeo and Juliet were garden gnomes). Easily the best-known modern adaptation is Baz Luhrmann's 1996 version, which starred a young Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, and also lifted its dialogue straight from the original play. However, this will be the first time that we've seen the story told from Tybalt's perspective, and given Hinds' hip-hop music and culture expertise, it's sure to boast an excellent soundtrack.
There are no details yet of when to expect Prince of Cats in theaters, since it sounds like it's still in the early stages of development, but having a well-known actor cast in the lead role is a very good sign at this stage. We'll keep you updated on any further news as it becomes available.