EXCLUSIVE: Apple Studios’ runaway-slave thriller Emancipation starring Will Smith is suspending filming following a small number of positive Covid tests among the hundreds of crew working on the movie in Louisiana, I have learned.
I hear the cast and crew were just notified about the hiatus, which starts tomorrow and is expected to last approximately five days. Done out of abundance of caution, it comes about two weeks into the shoot of the high-profile movie, directed by Antoine Fuqua from a William N. Collage script. This is the latest Hollywood production to pause filming due to positive tests in the past few weeks as the country is grappling with a new Covid wave fueled by the high contagious Delta strain.
Emancipation, originally slated to film in Georgia, moved production to Louisiana, where the actual events in the movie took place, because of Georgia’s controversial restrictive election law signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
Smith plays Peter, a slave who fled a plantation in Louisiana after he was whipped within an inch of his life. He had to outwit cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on a torturous journey north. There, he joined the Union Army. The thriller is based on Peter’s true story and was inspired by the haunting photo of his bare back, scarred from the brutal whipping. The image, which came to be known as “The Scourged Back,” was published by The Independent in May 1863 and then in the Harper’s Weekly. It became indisputable proof of the barbarity of slavery in America, solidified the cause of abolitionists and prompted many free Blacks to join the Union Army.