Former Long Beach Poly High football star Brian Banks was wrongfully accused of rape at the age of 16, after fighting the case for nearly a decade and ultimately becoming exonerated, his story will be told on the big screen.
Casting has already begun and it has been reported that Banks will be played by award-winning American actor Aldis Hodge, best known for his roles on the TNT series “Leverage” and as MC Ren in “Straight Outta Compton”. Alongside him will be Greg Kinnear, Academy Award nominee for “As Good as It Gets,” portraying Justin Brooks, his defense attorney.
“I am thrilled that the Brian Banks story is being made into a movie. It’s an important story that needs to be told in a country where 95 percent of criminal cases end in plea bargains,” the real Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law, told the Post. “Sentences have become so long, and the risks of going to trial so great, that sometimes even innocent people like Brian plea to crimes they did not commit.”
Movie Update: Everyone’s been asking, so here it is. @aldis_hodge what a journey you have coming your way my brotha. These shoes of mine… pic.twitter.com/AasB9TYEGa
— Brian Banks (@BrianBanksFREE) September 7, 2017
The film is set to be directed by Tom Shadyac, who directed feature films “Ace Ventura,” “Bruce Almighty,” and the documentary “I Am” and will be produced by Amy Baer’s development fund Gidden Media, and Rawat and Monica Levinson from ShivHans Pictures. Screenwriter Doug Atchison, who directed and wrote “Akeelah and the Bee,” wrote the script for the film.
“After meeting Brian and hearing his story, I felt compelled to make this movie,” Rawat Levinson stated earlier this year. “I’m committed to stories about social justice, which is why this project resonated with me. Tom’s life journey the past several years makes him an inspired choice to tell this story, and we’re so glad to have him on the team.”
An all-American high school athlete who committed to USC his junior year, his life was overturned in 2002 when he was falsely accused of rape despite negative rape kit results.
During an educational program for law enforcement and prosecutors hosted by the City Prosecutors Office in 2015, Banks recalled his case experience as an objectionable one.
In spite of a positive review while incarcerated for 90 days in Chino, he said that the judge sentenced him the maximum amount of time allowed.
“No explanation, no reasoning. Six years,” Banks said. “The way it was given to me was almost as if he was at a drive-through at McDonald’s. He ordered it up and drove off.’’
He was nonetheless sent through the system and sentenced to a decade of prison and parole.
Banks achieved parole in 2007 and while readjusting to post-prison life, was contacted on Facebook by the accuser who, in attempt to make amends, confessed and confirmed his innocence.
It wasn’t until Banks got in contact with the California Innocence Project and Justin Brooks who lead the case to victory that Banks’ conviction was ultimately exonerated in 2012.
After his redemption, Banks did ultimately achieve his NFL dreams with the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad in 2013.
Banks is currently serving as a speaker and activist, and will be hosting a new show on Oxygen called “Final Appeal”, a TV series that will feature Banks and former prosecutor, Loni Coombs, as they unravel details of criminal cases of defendants that claimed to be wrongfully convicted.
Production reportedly began this summer. A release date has not been announced.
For more information, visit the IMDB website here.
Editor’s note: this story was updated with a quote from Innocense Project Director Justin Brooks.