This week, a slew of new character posters — and one dramatic new photo — from Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom were released into the world. The new adaptation of playwright August Wilson‘s 1982 play of the same name and is based, in part, on the life of actual “Mother of Blues” singer Ma Rainey. Notably, the Netflix period drama will serve as the late Chadwick Boseman‘s final on-screen appearance following his sudden passing in August.
Viola Davis tackles the lead role of Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. As such, she is front and center in a newly-released image from the adaptation directed by prominent theater director and actor George C. Wolfe. The image sees Davis’ Ma Rainey looking quite forlorn and contemplative as she sits in the back of a car. Chances are good this has something to do with Ma Rainey’s primary dramatic arc through the movie, which concerns her ongoing battles with her manager and producer over the creative control of her music.
In addition to the new image of Davis as Ma Rainey, Netflix released new and ultra-dramatic character posters featuring the knockout cast assembled for Wolfe’s movie. We also get a good look at Boseman as Levee, a trumpet player who not only has eyes for Ma Rainey’s girlfriend but stirs the pot as Ma’s band waits for her to show up to a recording session. Additional posters show of cast members Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, Taylour Paige, Dusan Brown, and Michael Potts in their 1920s-era costumes.
Here’s a brief synopsis of Wolfe’s adaptation of Wilson’s celebrated play:
Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey (Academy Award winner Viola Davis). Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) — who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry — spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives. Adapted from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom celebrates the transformative power of the blues and the artists who refuse to let society’s prejudices dictate their worth.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is coming to Netflix on December 18. Check out the new character posters below, including the stunning portraits of Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. For more, find out what’s coming to Netflix in October.
Allie Gemmill is the Weekend Contributing Editor for Collider. You can follow them on Twitter @_matineeidle.