(Director/Writer) As actor, writer, director and producer, Andrew Heckler has participated in all aspects of the entertainment industry. In 2016, Heckler directed the feature film BURDEN, starring Forest Whitaker, Garrett Hedlund, Usher Raymond, Andrea Riseborough and Tom Wilkinson, based on a screenplay he wrote in 1999. Burden received the Audience Award at both the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and Nantucket Film Festival, where Heckler was also presented with the Visionary Award for screenwriting. Heckler also founded the Tribeca-based Workhouse Theater in 1992, where he produced, directed and acted in over 35 plays over the course of six years.
Forest Whitaker (Reverend Kennedy), one of Hollywood’s most accomplished actors, directors, and producers, has showcased his talents in a multitude of demanding and diverse roles. In 2007, he earned critical acclaim for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, receiving the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, SAG Award, and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. His intensive character work in films such as Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The Crying Game, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, and Bird, for which he was named Best Actor at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, have made him one of the most versatile performers of all time.
In television, Whitaker currently serves as executive producer and star of the critically acclaimed EPIX series Godfather of Harlem that tells the true story of crime boss Bumpy Johnson (Whitaker), who in the early 1960s returned after 10 years in prison to find the neighborhood he once ruled in shambles. The role earned him a NAACP Image Award nomination, one of four for the series. He recently had a multi-episode arc on Fox’s Empire, playing a charismatic and duplicitous music icon and hitmaker. Whitaker also garnered an Emmy Award for Door to Door where he served as an executive producer.
Recent films include Black Panther; Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama Arrival; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story alongside Felicity Jones; The Forgiven and Netflix’s How It Ends.
Up next, he will be seen in BURDEN opposite Tom Wilkinson and the upcoming Netflix holiday film Jingle Jangle directed by David E. Talbert in 2020. He is currently in production on Respect, the life story of the legendary Aretha Franklin, slated to also premiere in 2020.
In addition to his film and television work, Whitaker made his Broadway debut in Eugene O’Neill’s Hughie, directed by Tony Award Winner Michael Grandage, and starred in A&E Network's remake of the 1977 miniseries, Roots, where he took on the role of ‘Fiddler’.
In 2010 he launched Significant Productions which aims to support young, talented filmmakers. In 2013, he co-produced Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut, Fruitvale Station, earning Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize and Cannes Film Festival’s Best First Film Award. Significant Productions’ latest films, Sorry to Bother You, Dope, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, and Roxanne Roxanne were also selected to debut in competition at the Sundance Film Festival, where they received excellent reviews. Dope was selected for Best Editing with Roxanne Roxanne as the Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Performance at the festival. Additionally, Dope and Songs My Brothers Taught Me were selected for inclusion in the 2015 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.
Whitaker made his directorial debut with Strapped in 1993, for which he won the International Critics’ Award at the Toronto Film Festival. Since then, he has directed and executive produced Waiting to Exhale, Hope Floats, and First Daughter. He has produced numerous other award- winning films and documentaries, including the Peabody Award winning Brick City, and has executive produced several made-for-television movies and miniseries.
Under Frank Cooper, he served as the creator and producer of DEWmocracy.com, an interactive video game, short film, and website that allowed people to select a new flavor of Mountain Dew. This campaign turned into the most successful launch of a soft drink in Mountain Dew’s history.
Over the past decade, Whitaker has devoted much of his time to his humanitarian work. He is the founder and CEO of The Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, which has current branches in Uganda, South Sudan, South Africa, Mexico, and the United States. He is also the co-founder and chair of the International Institute for Peace, a UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, and was a member of President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. He previously served on President Obama’s Urban Policy Committee and started collaborating with the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict as an Advocate for Children Affected by War, a topic on which he was invited to speak before the UN Security Council in September 2014. Additionally, he is on the steering committee for the UN’s work with the Reintegration of Child Soldiers and is an Advocate for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
(Clarence Brooks) Challenging himself creatively and testing musical boundaries are characteristics that have defined Usher's career since he was first discovered twenty years ago on Star Search. Usher has been ranked by the Recording Industry Assn. of America as one of the best-selling artists in American music history, having sold over 65 million albums worldwide. He has won numerous awards including 8 Grammy Awards and was named the #1 Hot 100 artist of the 2000s decade. Billboard named him the second most successful artist of the 2000s decade, with his career-propelling 2004 album “Confessions” being ranked as the top solo album of the 2000s decade. Usher has attained nine Hot 100 #1 hits (all as a lead artist) and 18 Hot 100 top-10 singles.
2020 continues to be a busy year for Usher. Musically, he is currently in the studio recording his 9th studio album which will be released in 2020. Late 2018 he released a collaborative project with Zaytoven entitled “A” which was an ode to the Atlanta sound and culture. His acting career continued to develop with his role in the film Burden. Burden debuted at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and won the “Audience Award for Best Film”. It is due out for national release in early 2020.
In 2017 the release of his most recent studio album entitled “Hard II Love” spawned his 15th N #1 single with the song “No Limit”. In Film, Usher garnered critical acclaim for his role as boxer Sugar Ray Leonard in Hands of Stone. The film is a biopic of boxer Roberto Duran in which he co-starred opposite Robert DeNiro and Edgar Ramirez.
Recently Usher finished his world tour entitled “The UR Experience”. Usher also completed 2 seasons as a coach on NBC's Emmy award winning hit TV show The Voice where he proved his top-notch coaching capability by becoming the champion of season 6.
Realizing that with success comes responsibility. Usher has also proven to be a major philanthropic force. Founded in 1999, his New Look Foundation empowers youth from impoverished communities to become leaders. In recognition of his accomplishments, Usher has been honored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Trumpet Foundation, Do Something, the NAACP, and as the 2010 Ford Freedom Award Scholar. Usher's business ventures include a best-selling line of fragrances, and a business venture with RBMG (Raymond Braun Media Group).
Tom Wilkinson (Tom Griffin) is an award-winning actor of stage and screen. Wilkinson received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Tony Gilroy's Academy Award®-nominated Michael Clayton. He received an Academy Award® nomination for Leading Actor for his unforgettable performance in Todd Field's acclaimed drama In The Bedroom, opposite Sissy Spacek. Wilkinson also received a BAFTA nomination, won the Independent Spirit Award, a Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize and a New York Film Critics Circle Award for the role. Prior to that, Wilkinson won a BAFTA for his role in the 1997 British and international box-office sensation The Full Monty, and garnered another BAFTA nomination the following year for his performance in the Oscar®-winning Best Picture Shakespeare In Love. He received Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations for his courageous performance in HBO's 2003 film Normal, opposite Jessica Lange. Wilkinson won an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Supporting Actor for the HBO miniseries John Adams, in which he portrayed Benjamin Franklin. He also appeared on the Reelz Channel, in the U.S. playing Joe Kennedy in The Kennedys and was nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a miniseries. Wilkinson was also Golden Globe nominated for his co-starring role in the Golden Globe winning TV movie Recount playing James Baker opposite Kevin Spacey.
Tom’s upcoming work includes the limited series, Belgravia, for ITV, and the features SAS: Red Notice, and Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets.
Andrea Riseborough (Judy) is an immensely talented actress with a true gift for transformation, Andrea Riseborough continues to captivate audiences and earn critical acclaim with each role.
Upcoming, Riseborough will next star in Nicolas Pesce’s reboot of The Grudge opposite Damian Bichir and John Cho. Sony is slated to release the film on January 3, 2020. Following, she will be seen in Stefano Sollima’s ZeroZeroZero, Amazon’s true-crime series focusing on the cocaine drug trade. The show, which begins streaming in 2020, premiered two episodes at the 2019 Venice Film Festival. Also upcoming, Riseborough will be seen in Lone Scherfig’s The Kindness of Strangers opposite Zoe Kazan and Bill Nighy, which opened the 2019 Berlin Film Festival, Brandon Cronenberg’s thriller Possessor and Zeina Durra’s drama Luxor, both of which are set to premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
She is currently in production on BBC Film’s Here Before, and recently completed production on Louis Wain opposite Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy. Riseborough is also attached to star in a variety of projects including, Amanda Kramer and Noel David Taylor’s Please Baby Please, Stuart Ford and Glendon Palmer’s Geechee and Michael Morris’s To Leslie.
Most recently, Riseborough starred in Nancy, which premiered in competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and was awarded the prestigious Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. The film was also nominated for two Film Independent Spirit Awards in the categories of Best Supporting Female (J. Smith Cameron) and Best First Screenplay (Christina Choe). Riseborough earned momentous critical praise for her performance in the title role opposite Steve Buscemi, Ann Dowd and John Leguizamo in the film, which she also produced under her production banner, Mother Sucker.
Prior, she starred in Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin, which premiered to rave reviews at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. It was later released by IFC in March 2018. Riseborough’s performance garnered a 2017 British Independent Film Award nomination and, more recently, the film was ranked as one of the Top Ten Independent Films of 2018 by the National Board of Review. Additionally, she starred in Mandy and BURDEN, both of which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Mandy previously appeared in the Director’s Fortnight at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
Previously, Riseborough starred in Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ Battle of the Sexes alongside Emma Stone and Steve Carell, which tells the true story of the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Earlier, she starred in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Riseborough’s additional film credits include Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals; Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go; Nigel Cole’s Made in Dagenham; Rowan Joffe’s Brighton Rock; Madonna’s W.E., as Wallis Simpson; Amit Gupta’s Resistance; Henry Alex Rubin’s Disconnect; Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion opposite Tom Cruise; Eran Creevy’s Welcome to the Punch; Corinna McFarlane’s The Silent Storm; the Duffer Brothers’ Hidden and James Marsh’s Shadow Dancer, opposite Clive Owen, for which Riseborough won the British Independent Film Award (BIFA), the Evening Standard British Film Award, and the London Critics’ Circle Film Award for Best Actress.
On the small screen, she appeared in Paramount Network’s six-part limited series Waco alongside Taylor Kitsch, Michael Shannon and John Leguizamo. The series is based on the true story of the 51-day standoff that began when the FBI and ATF seized religious leader, David Koresh's, Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas in the spring of 1993.
Prior, she starred in an episode of the fourth season on Netflix’s critically-acclaimed drama Black Mirror, and Hulu’s four-part mini-series National Treasure alongside Robbie Coltrane and Julie Waters and written by BAFTA®-winning writer Jack Thorne, Netflix’s drama Bloodline, Julian Jarrold’s TV movie, The Witness for the Prosecution, based on Agatha Christie’s play of the same name and Party Animals, which marked Riseborough’s first leading role in a television series.
Growing up in the U.K. seaside resort of Whitley Bay, she wrote and created her own worlds. At the age of nine, her drama teacher recommended her for an audition at the People’s Theatre (home of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Newcastle), and she appeared in her first public production there.While still attending the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts (RADA), she began taking external acting roles in telefilms and theatre productions. After leaving RADA, she starred the Oppenheimer Award-winning play A Brief History of Helen of Troy at the Soho Theatre, directed by Gordon Anderson, and was nominated as Best Newcomer at the 2005 Theatre Goers’ Choice Awards. Riseborough’s first feature film role was in Roger Michell’s Venus (2006), starring her good friend Jodie Whittaker and Peter O’Toole.
She starred for six months at the National Theatre, in Deborah Gearing’s Burn, Enda Walsh’s Chatroom and Mark Ravenhill’s Citizenship, all directed by Anna Mackmin. She was honored with the Ian Charleson Award for her performance in Peter Hall’s Royal Shakespeare Company staging of Measure for Measure.
Mike Leigh offered her a place in the company of his film Happy-Go-Lucky. She made the movie and then starred at the Royal Court Theatre in Bruce Norris’ The Pain and the Itch, for which she was nominated as Best Supporting Actress at the 2007 Theatre Goers’ Choice Awards. Later, she starred in Dorota Maslowska’s A Couple of Poor, Polish-Speaking Romanians, at The Soho Theatre; and in the Donmar Warehouse production of Ivanov, opposite Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hiddleston. She made her U.S. stage debut in Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride, directed by Joe Mantello.
Following, Riseborough starred as Margaret Thatcher in the telefilm Margaret Thatcher – The Long Walk To Finchley, directed by Niall McCormick, for which she received a BAFTA Award nomination; starred in the short film Love You More, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and written by Patrick Marber; starred in Avie Luthra’s independent feature Mad Sad & Bad; and played the lead role in the miniseries The Devil’s Whore, about the 17th-Century English Civil War, directed by Marc Munden.
Garrett Hedlund (Mike Burden) has had a multitude of starring roles since he made an auspicious debut as part of the all-star cast in Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy with Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger when he was just 18 years old.
Hedlund recently completed production on “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday,” directed by Lee Daniels and inspired by the 2015 New York Time’s Bestseller Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs written by Johann Hari. Hedlund stars as Harry J. Anslinger, alongside Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes, Evan Ross, and Natasha Lyonne. Hedlund also recently completed production on “Keyhole Garden,” which traces the sprawling romance of a man and woman whose love for each other struggles to overcome the divisiveness of life on America’s southern border. Hedlund stars alongside Zoe Saldana, Tom Waits, and Luce Rains.
In Andrew Heckler’s BURDEN Hedlund portrays the lead character based on the true story of a KKK Klansman who’s life course is changed when he finds love. BURDEN also stars Forrest Whitaker, Andrea Riseborough, and Usher. The film will be out in theaters on February 28, 2020 from 101 Studios. Next year will also see the release of the independent film Dirt Music in which Hedlund stars opposite Kelly MacDonald and directed by Gregor Jordan.
Hedlund starred in the award-winning Netflix film Mudbound for director Dee Rees and based on the Hillary Jordan novel. Mudbound also starred Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell Jason Clarke and Mary J. Blige. The cast won the Robert Altman Award at the Spirit Awards as well as the Breakthrough Cast Award at the Hollywood Film Awards and was nominated for Critic’s Choice Award, SAG Awards and BET Awards among many others. The film itself also received numerous award recognitions including Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Writing Adapted Screenplay.
Last year Hedlund co-starred in Netflix’s Triple Frontier, a story of five friends who re-unite to take down a South American drug lord, directed by J.C. Chandor. The all-star cast also includes Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Oscar Isaac, Adria Arjona, and Pedro Pascal. The film received 52 million views in the first four weeks on the streamer.
Hedlund received critical accolades for his starring role in Walter Salles’ On the Road opposite Sam Riley and Kristen Stewart, based on the novel by Jack Kerouac. He also starred alongside Vin Diesel, Steve Martin and Chris Tucker and his On the Road co-star Kristen Stewart in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk from director Ang Lee. Hedlund was also in William Monahan’s Mojave in which he appeared once again with his Inside Llewyn Davis co-star, Oscar Isaac.
Hedlund also starred alongside Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara in Warner Bros’ Pan, directed by Joe Wright, in which he portrayed ‘Hook.’ Previous film credits include; Universal’s Unbroken, based on the Laura Hillenbrand book and directed by Angelina Jolie; Inside Llewyn Davis alongside Oscar Isaac, Carrie Mulligan and John Goodman and Lullaby.
Hedlund has had the opportunity to work with great actors and directors in: Twentieth Century Fox’s Death Sentence opposite Kevin Bacon, Kelly Preston and John Goodman; Universal Pictures’ Georgia Rule opposite Lindsay Lohan and Jane Fonda; and Eragon co-starring with Djimon Honsou, Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich. Hedlund also starred in Paramount Pictures’ Four Brothers with director John Singleton and co-stars Mark Wahlberg, Andre 3000 and Tyrese Gibson and Universal’s Friday Night Lights, directed by Peter Berg and produced by Brian Grazer and Imagine Entertainment. Hedlund starred as tailback Don Billingsley, co-starring with Billy Bob Thornton, Derek Luke, Jay Hernandez, Lucas Black and Tim McGraw. He also starred in Tron: Legacy alongside Jeff Bridges and Olivia Wilde and Country Strong opposite Gwyneth Paltrow, Leighton Meester and Tim McGraw. HBO premiered Stephen Soderbergh’s “Mosaic,” which starred Hedlund and Sharon Stone. The project was an experimental show which had a tie-in with a newly developed app that helped viewers follow different character’s story lines.
Hedlund was born in northern Minnesota and spent his high school years in Scottsdale, Arizona before starring in Petersen’s iconic film at the age of eighteen. He began taking private acting classes while in high school and took a unique approach to his pursuit of the craft by reading screenplays of older films, watching those films on video, and then pretending he was auditioning for one of the roles in the film. He also spent countless hours reading the Hollywood trade papers at his local bookstore and calling agents in Los Angeles. He graduated from high school a semester early and immediately packed his bags and headed for Hollywood.
Hedlund has been honored with the Young Hollywood “Film Actor of the Year” Award, the Glamour UK “Man of the Year” Award and the Maui Film Festival’s “Rising Star” Award. The Mudbound cast won the Robert Altman Award at the Spirit Awards as well as the Breakthrough Cast Award at the Hollywood Film Awards and was nominated for Critic’s Choice Award, SAG Awards and BET Awards among many others.
"I went back and spent some time with the Klansmen to figure out who they were and what they were all about..and tried to really get under their skin so I could make a complicated movie. I was looking to make a movie about people." - #AndrewHeckler on his #BurdenMovie research pic.twitter.com/BUOGfDWPw1— BUILD Series (@BUILDseriesNYC) February 18, 2020