‘Emperor of Ocean Park’ Adds Acclaimed Chicago Theatre Actors Ora Jones and Torrey Hanson

Chicago’s new TV series is building up its cast, and adding some tremendous hometown talent in the process. Steppenwolf ensemble member Ora Jones and Chicago Fire actor Torrey Hanson are among the latest cast additions, joining Henry Simmons, Bryan Greenberg and Jasmine Batchelor in the new MGM+ series Emperor of Ocean Park, a suspense thriller inspired by the best-selling novel of the same name from Stephen L. Carter. They join previously announced series regulars Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, Grantham Coleman, Tiffany Mack and Paulina Lule.

The series began filming in Chicago on January 10th and will wrap on or near April 25th. Click here for more of SCREEN’s coverage of this new series.

From John Wells and Sherman Payne, Emperor of Ocean Park is set in the worlds of politics, Ivy League academia and the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard. It follows Talcott Garland (Coleman), an esteemed law professor whose quiet life is shattered when his father, Judge Oliver Garland (Whitaker), dies of an apparent heart attack. The nature of the judge’s death is questioned by Tal’s sister, Mariah (Tiffany Mack), a former journalist and inveterate conspiracy theorist, who believes that the judge, a failed Black nominee to the Supreme Court, met with foul play. 

Greenberg plays Howard Denton; Simmons plays Addison Garland; Jones plays Claire Garland; Batchelor plays Maxine; Hanson plays Jack Ziegler.

Henry Simmons, Torrey Hanson, Ora Jones and Jasmine Batchelor. Photo Credits: Diana Ragland/Torrey Hanson/Courtesy/Sam Denifoff.

Emperor of Ocean Park is produced by JWP in association with Warner Bros. Television, where JWP is under an overall deal. Damian Marcano is set to direct multiple episodes. John Wells, Sherman Payne, Damian Marcano, Shukree Tilghman and JWP’s Erin Jontow will serve as executive producers. Payne, who also serves as showrunner, wrote the first episode, which will be directed by Marcano.

Chicago Theatre Actors Set to Shine

Hanson has had guest, recurring and co-starring roles in Fargo, The Exorcist, Shining Girls, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, South Side, Empire, Crisis, Cheers and Wings. He played Jack Hyde in Jordan Peele’s remake of Candyman. He’s performed in over 160 theater productions, most recently at Steppenwolf, Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare and Writers Theaters in Chicago.

Jones’ Broadway roles include Madame de Volanges in Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Booth, and Mrs. Phelps in Matilda the Musical, both at the Shubert and in the first national tour. She has worked at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater; the Goodman Theatre; Rivendell Theatre; Timeline Theatre; Writers Theatre and About Face Theatre. She is an ensemble member of the Internationally acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre. TV appearances include Somebody, Somewhere (HBO), Chicago Fire (NBC), Betrayal (ABC) and 61st Street (AMC/CW).

One Tree Hill Star Joins Cast

Greenberg is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Jake Jagielski in the CW’s One Tree Hill. He also starred in the HBO series How To Make It In America from the creative team behind Entourage, as well as Friends With Benefits for Screen Gems, opposite Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. Additionally, Greenberg starred in the fifth and sixth seasons of Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project for Hulu.

Simmons most recently starred in Season 2 of the OWN and Ava DuVernay’s anthology drama series Cherish the Day, from WBTV. Previously, he starred in six seasons of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for ABC and in the final six seasons of the landmark ABC drama NYPD Blue, created by Steven Bochco and David Milch. He was also a series regular on the CBS legal drama Shark and ABC comedy Man Up.

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