Why Did They Change Malcolm X in ‘Godfather of Harlem’ Season 3?

Nigel Thatch VS Jason Alan Carvell in Godfather of Harlem 1
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The third season of Godfather of Harlem was all about Malcolm X’s last days on Earth, and many fans were looking forward to seeing Nigel Thatch portray what would be the civil rights activist’s toughest days in the show. The role of Malcolm X seemed natural for Thatch after he portrayed the character in the 2014 movie Selma. It was a surprise when Jason Alan Carvell was announced as the new Malcolm instead, which left many fans wondering why they had to change Malcolm X and why Nigel Thatch left the show.

Chris Brancato, who co-produces the show, said that a delay in the commencement of production of the third season caused a scheduling conflict that forced Nigel Thatch to move to another project. The creators were therefore forced to recast the role, with Jason Alan Carvell emerging as the best candidate. The performance of both stars received lots of praise from the creators and the fans, with Carvell getting more praise for humanizing Malcolm in his last days.

Most actors would consider the chance to play Malcolm X a big privilege, especially on a show with a huge following like Godfather of Harlem, which is why Thatch’s exit was shocking for many. It is still fair to say that the show’s new Malcolm X did an impeccable job portraying the civil rights activist. While most fans can’t say they missed Thatch in the third season, it is still important to understand why the hero’s face had to change in the show, so let’s delve into it.

Why was Malcolm X recast in Godfather of Harlem?

Jason Carvell VS Nigel Thatch as Malcolm X 1

There was a delay in the announcement of the renewal of Godfather of Harlem for a third season. During the period of uncertainty, Nigel Thatch, who portrayed the character in the first two seasons, moved on to other projects.

“The season started about 4 to 5 months later than it was supposed to, and Nigél had other projects that he had committed to…” Chris Brancato, who is one of the showrunners, said.

The announcement of the third season came in January of 2022, nearly seven months after the end of the show’s second season. It is not clear why it was delayed for so long, but it interfered with the showrunners’ plans for the new season.

Brancato also said the show was greenlit for a third season very early on, meaning the announcement was just a matter of time since the third season was almost certain.

“…it just took a while on the business side, Nigél had other projects he was pursuing, and the dates didn’t work out…” Brancato said in an interview while explaining Nigel Thatch’s conflicted schedule and exit from the show.

Nigel Thatch portrayed Malcolm X for the first two seasons of the show, with his partnership with Forest Whitaker, who plays Bumpy Johson, receiving lots of praise.

Brancato described Thatch’s performance as extraordinary, saying it wasn’t easy to replace him. ” But, in Jason Alan Carvell, what we found was an actor who has a similar gravitas to Nigél…” Brancato said.

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Thatch portrayed Malcolm in the Oscar-nominated film Selma, although the film only covered Malcolm’s life post his trip to Mecca.

Playing Malcolm from the time he converted to Islam in Godfather of Harlem was, therefore, a whole new experience for Thatch.

Most fans were looking forward to a repeat of his stellar performance in Godfather of Harlem’s third season as Malcolm entered the same phase of his life as he was in Selma, but his exit meant that never happened.

Nigel Thatch said in an interview in 2019 that playing the younger version of Malcolm in Godfather of Harlem was difficult because the young Malcolm was still tied to the teachings of Elijah Mohammad.

He still appreciated the well-planned script by Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein in his interview. He is yet to say why he left the show in 2022, though.

Who is the new Malcolm X in Godfather of Harlem?

Godfather of Harlems new Malcolm X

Jason Alan Carvell was cast for the role of Malcolm X in the third season of Godfather of Harlem after Nigel Thatch’s exit.

Carvell is a veteran actor with over two decades of experience on the small screen. He got the role of Malcolm X on the back of his biggest role on TV as Jimmy Boyd in NCIS: New Orleans.

Unlike Nigel Thatch, who had played the character before, it was Carvell’s first time playing Malcolm X, but his performance was still good enough to join Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and other popular stars that have played the role exceptionally before.

“In Jason Alan Carvell, what we found was an actor who has a similar gravitas to Nigél and a presence, and also a warmth that we thought was very appealing…” Brancato said about the star’s performance.

Carvell found a way to capture Malcolm X’s warmth and sense of humor, despite the civil rights activist’s difficult times, making the character a lot more human.

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The resigned Malcolm X, that wasn’t worried about his death, prepared fans better for what was to come, and Carvell’s light-hearted approach to the last days of Malcolm X’s life made Malcolm more interesting to watch in the third season of the show.

However, the fighting spirit of Malcolm X that saw him take on the likes of Chin Gigante and Elijah Mohammad in the first two seasons of the show was lost since Carvell took over the role.

The flatter version of Malcolm with more words and less action in the third season is down to the writing rather than Carvell’s performance.

Who killed Malcolm X in Godfather of Harlem?

Malcolm X in the Godfather of Harlem Season Finale

Godfather of Harlem hasn’t exposed the group behind Malcolm X’s assassination, although the primary suspects are rogue members of the Nation of Islam from Mosque No. 25 in Newark, New Jersey.

Captain Omar had received rumors about people at the mosque planning a hit on Malcolm X, although Malcolm ignored his warnings to call off the speech or get more security in the ballroom where he would hold his speech.

The assassination in the show follows the same script as the official statement, including the details of the three shooters, one of whom had a sawed-off shotgun.

In the official police statement after Malcolm X was killed, the police had one suspect that was beaten and detained by the crowd believed to have been one of the shooters.

However, in the show, the crowd doesn’t detain anyone, but Captain Omar hits one shooter with a chair, which means he might be used to portray the main suspect in the official statement.

The government officers that arrested Bumpy Johnson’s men before they could get to the ballroom also prove that either the FBI or the CIA had a hand in the assassination plot.

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