Filmmaker Courting Denzel to Play Harold Washington

Could the iconic Denzel Washington be playing the barrier-bashing Chicago mayor Harold Washington in the not-so-distant future? Writer-director Joseph Michael Chopin believes so, and he’s taking steps to bring his dream to fruition.

Chopin’s narrative feature is entitled THE GREATEST GOOD and would mark his directorial debut, eyeing an early 2021 shoot date. Chopin has been in extensive correspondence with the Oscar-winning actor and his camp in recent months, and is determined to bring Denzel to town to play the first African-American mayor of the City of Chicago. “As the director of this historical film, I believe that Denzel Washington was crafted, heart, mind, soul and body to specifically portray Mayor Harold Washington,” Chopin told SCREEN. “This mastery, this gift has ordained Denzel to play a role that will resurrect the spirit of unity in the community. He is one of those actors that can effect international change. Denzel Washington discovered the role of Harold Washington, so he should govern the role of Harold Washington.”


THE GREATEST GOOD is a true story based on the life of Mayor Harold Washington – the first African-American Mayor of the City of Chicago. Chopin offers the following introduction to the film, “The film will explore Chicago’s legendarily oppressive political machine and how Washington sought to topple it down, first dismantling the system run by the late Richard J. Daley, and second, by uniting the African American, Mexican American, and Native American communities of Chicago.”

As mayor, Washington fought and won the longest city council war in the history of the nation, foreshadowing the partisan gridlock that occurred during the Obama presidency. Washington garnered nearly all of the African American vote, mobilizing a dejected and disenfranchised voter base in a manner never seen before.

What’s Next

Chopin will be hosting a special event at, appropriately enough, the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago on February 25th at 6 p.m., to continue to drive this narrative feature to production. Chopin’s screenplay for THE GREATEST GOOD was preceded by a documentary of the groundbreaking Chicago mayor. Chopin, who also directed the documentary, is in the finishing stages of this feature and will be presenting select scenes from the film at the February 25th festivities. The full documentary will be released toward the end of this year, and will then lead into production of the narrative feature in early 2021, ideally with Denzel helming the cast.

Chopin’s long-term vision for this feature is not short on ambition or in its mission to strengthen the local and global community. “THE GREATEST GOOD movie is a tool to help unite the South and West sides of Chicago,” Chopin told SCREEN. “We plan to cast the entire community in the film and use the proceeds of the movie to return back to the communities which are currently under-served in the city of Chicago and around the world. Our film will cast a large population of the Chicago community and generate thousands of jobs for the next five years; during pre-production, actual production and post production. It is time for this legendary figure’s story to enter mainstream consciousness, with the aim of reintroducing Washington’s spirit for community development back into Chicago and the world.”

Here is a look at the trailer for the documentary, the precursor to the eventual narrative feature THE GREATEST GOOD:

Check back here at SCREEN for updates leading up to the February 25 special event as well as news on THE GREATEST GOOD as it proceeds toward production. In the meantime, visit thegreatestgoodmovie.com for more about the film and writer-director Joseph Michael Chopin.

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