LaKeith Stanfield goes from biblical-era everyman to rising messiah in the first trailer for TriStar and Legendary Pictures’ The Book of Clarence.
Written and directed by The Harder They Fall’s Jeymes Samuel and featuring new music from Samuel and Jay-Z, the film follows Stanfield’s Clarence, a streetwise hustler struggling to support his family while fighting to free himself of debt, who learns of the power and glory of the messiah and his apostles, and decides he wants to join their ranks. “I’m not a man without faults,” Stanfield says in the trailer. “I’ve played the cards that I was dealt.”
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“Clarence is a person that doesn’t believe in anything outside of what’s in front of him, what he can see and hear,” Samuel told Vanity Fair in a recent interview. “Clarence has a lot of inside belief — he has a lot of inside confidence. This man is sure he could fly. He reminds me of me growing up, but unlike me, he has no outside faith. I think it’s just a really interesting vantage point to explore living in that particular time and place, where most everyone around him is speaking about the Messiah.”
Set to a rendition of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U,” the two-minute first look shows Clarence bearing witness to the messiah and soon after, devising his own plan — with the help of some friends — that sees him willing to risk it all in the name of holy adoration. While the trailer offers a collection of biblical references, it offers an equal amount of historical accuracy about the kinds of currency used in that time and where people might go get their hair done.
Still, The Book of Clarence is not a “faith-based” film, according to producer Shawn Carter (aka Jay-Z), nor does it make fun of biblical stories and their believers. Instead, it expands on the narratives within that time and world where faith serves as a “backdrop” to the larger story.
“My fear is that people don’t allow that arc to take place, and are immediately judging,” he told Vanity Fair. “This story is about a young man who finds his faith through love and through wanting to become somebody in the world, which is the story of everybody. Everyone wants to find love and everyone wants to leave this place having accomplished something, having left their mark that they’ve been here and hopefully affected the world in a positive way.”
The film also stars Omar Sy, Anna Diop, RJ Cyler, David Oyelowo, Micheal Ward, Alfre Woodard, Teyana Taylor, Caleb McLaughlin, Eric Kofi-Abrefa, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, James McAvoy and Benedict Cumberbatch. James Lassiter and Tendo Nagenda also produce alongside Samuel and Carter, with Garrett Grant executive producing.
The Book of Clarence will release in theaters on Jan. 12, 2024.
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