The 2019 prequel series to “American Gangster” will see Vincent D’Onofrio, Wilson Fisk in “Daredevil,” play opposite leading man Forest Whitaker over the course of season one’s ten-episode run.
Just as 2007 Denzel Washington movie “American Gangster” was based on the life of Frank Lucas, so 2019’s “Godfather of Harlem” sees Forest Whitaker become Lucas’s boss and mentor, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson.
In real life, Bumpy Johnson had links with the New York-based architect of transnational organized crime, Lucky Luciano, and in the TV show the two are portrayed as rivals when Johnson, released from prison, discovers his native Harlem now ruled by the New York mafia’s Genovese crime family.
D’Onofrio enters the picture as another real-life figure, Vincent Gigante, an ex-boxer and enforcer for the Luciano crime family, and its direct successor, the Genovese crime family.
To his imposing frame, Gigante added the impression of a slow and even insane mind, but behind the facade was a smart and strategic thinker who eventually became the Genovese family boss.
Set in the 1960s, “Godfather of Harlem” therefore has Johnson and Gigante as empire-building rivals and yet, as The Hollywood Reporter has it, they share the same killer weak point — a “troubled, rebellious young daughter.”
D’Onofrio broke through with a role in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 war film “Full Metal Jacket” and, as well as an ongoing performance as crime lord Wilson Fisk in TV show “Daredevil,” is well known for his appearances in the original “Men in Black” and in 2015’s “Jurassic World.”