EXCLUSIVE: Terrence Howard (Empire), JB. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Rebecca De Mornay (Jessica Jones) are set to star in Giving Thanks, a coming-of-age comedy set in Inglewood, California that will go into production in June.
The story revolves around Marcus and Roddy, two best friends who work at a dead-end retail job and dream about jump-starting their dream of living on their own while seeking fame and fortune. The pair come up with an ingenious plan to kidnap the pet iguana of football star Achilles Cooper for ransom, while also forcing the famous player to headline the birthday party of Marcus’s father.
Howard plays Calvin Turner, a hard-working father who wants to see his son, Marcus, take advantage of the opportunities life affords him. Smoove will portray Marcus’s arch-nemesis Dexter, an ambitious hustler who manages the retail box store where he works. And De Mornay is set for the role of Aunt Theodora, an eccentric cabaret/performance artist who tries her best to look out for Roddy, but knows a good opportunity when she sees it.
Leslie Small will direct the film, slated for an early 2024 release. Charles Maye and Michael NJ Wright penned the script from a story by Bill Freas. Brandwood Studios’ Stephanie Weier and Hunter De Vere developed the project with Charlton Jacques of Foresight Entertainment, with the trio to produce alongside 5120 Entertainment.
Howard is an Academy Award nominee who most recently appeared in Peacock’s The Best Man: The Final Chapters and is otherwise perhaps known for his portrayal of music mogul Lucious Lyon on Fox’s Empire. Among his best known films are Crash, Hustle & Flow, Prisoners, The Best Man, The Best Man Holiday, Red Tails and Iron Man. Other upcoming projects for the actor include John Ridley’s Netflix pic Shirley, Orson Oblowitz’s action comedy Showdown at the Grand and the horror thriller Skeletons in the Closet.
An Emmy winner best known for his role as Leon on HBO’s long-running comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm, Smoove has also been seen on series including History of the World: Part II, Mapleworth Murders and The Millers, among others. His film credits over the last decade include Spider-Man: No Way Home, Jerrod Carmichael’s On the Count of Three, John Turturro’s Big Lebowski spin-off The Jesus Rolls, Spider-Man: Far from Home, The Polka King, Barbershop: The Next Cut and Chris Rock’s Top Five. Smoove will next be seen in Amazon Studios’ musical romance pic Música from director Rudy Mancuso.
De Mornay has previously appeared in films including Wedding Crashers, Lords of Dogtown, Identity, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Backdraft, The Slugger’s Wife and Risky Business, among many others. Her TV credits include Lucifer, Jessica Jones and John from Cincinnati. Among the actress’s upcoming projects are the horror thriller Saint Clare with Bella Thorne and Ryan Phillippe, the horror thriller Angel Baby, and the action thriller Peter Five Eight.
Small has directed a number of Kevin Hart’s comedy specials, as well as on his talk show Hart to Heart. Other notable credits include Real Husbands of Hollywood, Netflix’s Holiday Rush and Undercover Brother 2.
Howard is repped by Universal Bridges; Smoove by UTA, Authentic Talent & Literary Management, and Roger A. Pliakas, Esq.; De Mornay by Innovative Artists and Joanne Horowitz Management; and Small by APA.