‘Small Axe’ Star Malachi Kirby Boards Steven Knight Disney+ Drama ‘A Thousand Blows’

EXCLUSIVE: Small Axe star Malachi Kirby has boarded Disney+’s A Thousand Blows, the Victorian boxing period drama penned by Steven Knight and starring Stephen Graham.

Kirby, who also led the A+E remake of Roots, will play Hezekiah Moscow, Deadline understands. Along with best friend Alec Munroe, Hezekiah travels to London from Jamaica and finds himself thrust into the criminal underbelly of the capital’s thriving bare-knuckle boxing scene. As Hezekiah finds fortune and fame through the art of pugilism, he attracts the attention of the infamous Queen of the Forty Elephants, Mary Carr, who sets about exploiting his talents to further her criminal enterprise. Alec Munroe’s casting is yet to be revealed.

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The six-part show for Disney+ vertical Star and Hulu in the U.S. was one of the biggest budget projects to emerge from last year’s Edinburgh TV Festival and will see Graham play Sugar Goodson, a dangerous, veteran boxer.

Kirby is one of Britain’s most promising acting talents. He earned plaudits for his performance in Roots and as Darcus Howe in Steve McQueen’s BBC/Amazon Prime Video anthology Small Axe, while other credits include Boiling Point, Curfew and Black Mirror. He is leading Prime Video’s upcoming Anansi Boys adaptation from Neil Gaiman and was most recently cast in British comedy-drama Wicked Little Letters opposite the likes of Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley.

Peaky Blinders creator Knight is penning A Thousand Blows, his debut series for Disney+, while Graham’s Matriarch Productions, The Story Collective and Water & Power Productions are producing. Award-winning broadcaster and historian David Olusoga, who delivered the 2020 Edinburgh TV Festival MacTaggart lecture, will exec produce and Tinge Krishnan (WeCrashedMosquito CoastIndustry) is lead director and EP.

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