Clemens Bilan/Getty Images
Danielle Zhu
September 16, 2015 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Oscar winners Forest Whitaker and Anna Paquin are among the many actors signed on for the A&E remake of Roots, the 1977 miniseries about Kunta Kinte, a young African man who gets sold into slavery in colonial America.

A&E announced Wednesday that Whitaker will play Fiddler, a slave who mentors Kunta Kinte, and Paquin will play Nancy Holt, the wife of a Confederate soldier who has her own agenda with the slaves. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anika Noni Rose, Chad L. Coleman, Erica Tazel, and Derek Luke are among the other actors rounding out the cast.

The iconic roles of Kunta Kinte and Chicken George will be played by newcomers Malachi Kirby and Rege-Jean Page, respectively. They join Laurence Fishburne, who was previously announced to portray Alex Haley, the author of the novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which the miniseries is based on.

In the original miniseries, the story spanned several generations while following the life of Kinte and his descendants and garnered 37 Emmy nominations during its eight-episode run. The A&E project – eight episodes to be aired in four nights – is currently being filmed in New Orleans and will begin production in South Africa later this month. It is set to air on A&E, the History Channel, and Lifetime next year. 

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