Nelsan Ellis Is 'Wainwright' In Mira Nair's International Thriller 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist'

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by Tambay A. Obenson
August 2, 2012 12:12 PM
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Lots of Nelsan Ellis news this week; this is the third project announcement we've made since Monday (the other 2 being a feature documentary he's directing called Damn Wonderful and being cast as Martin Luther King Jr in Lee Daniels' upcoming bio The Butler.

Today's news is actually one we somehow missed, although I'm not sure if it was ever officially announced (which does happen from time to time); Ellis co-stars in Mira Nair's latest work, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which is based on an adaptation of the bestselling novel of the same name by Mohsin Hamid.

And his role in it is actually quite involved from all I've read about the novel (I haven't actually read the novel... not yet anyway), and it's a character that's listed as one of the major players in the story.

The novel is an international political thriller about a Pakastani man working at a top financial firm on Wall Street who is caught between his professional aspirations, a hostage crisis, and his loyalty to his native country.

The novel’s main characters are listed as Changez, The AmericanWainwrightErica, Jim, and Juan-Bautista.

Ellis will play Wainwright (just Wainwright - as I learned, just about all the characters in this international political thriller, are known only by their first or last names, or other titles like The American).

And after some digging, here's what I learned about the character: Wainwright is Changez’s colleague and friend at Underwood Samson (the Wll Street firm that they are both young, promising employees of). He is a black man, his father being from Barbados. Wainwright is ranked second to Changez at Underwood Samson. However, for all his seriousness at work, he is also lighthearted and socially outgoing. He likes to quote movie lines and is the first person on the dance floor at Jim’s party in the Hamptons. Wainwright is the only one of Changez’s colleagues who does not seem to distrust him after the events of 9/11, when Changez grows a beard. He tries to help Changez, though unsuccessfully.

Apparently, they grow to become very good friends.

The novel is only 192 pages, long, and I've ordered a copy for myself to read eventually - hopefully before the film is released locally.

But first, announced last week, the 69th edition of the Venice Film Festival will open with the out-of-competition screening of The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Joining Ellis in the cast are Riz Ahmen (as Changez), Kate Hudson (as Erica), Kiefer Sutherland (as Jim), Liev Schreiber and Martin Donovan.

If you've read the book, thoughts overall, or specifically about Wainwright...?

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2 Comments

  • jb | August 6, 2012 10:36 AMReply

    lead actor's name is riz ahmed

  • Camille | August 2, 2012 1:04 PMReply

    Great novel and a very quick read. I'm happy it's being adapted to the big screen. We need more stories told from a different point of view. Instead of the typical bad-Arab trope. Wainwright's role is not very pivotal sadly. Erica is more of a main character as the novel centers around her relationship with Changez and his struggle to help her with her (mental health) issues stemming from a previous relationship.

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