First Look: Matthew McConaughey in Civil War Story 'The Free State of Jones'

Monday, 09 March 2015 11:36 Written by  iamrogue
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First Look: Matthew McConaughey in Civil War Story  'The Free State of Jones'

Almost a year to the day before The Free State of Jones is set to hit theaters, we're getting our first look at Matthew McConaughey in the anticipated Civil War drama.

McConaughey, the Oscar-winner who has been on fire for basically the last three years, stars as Newton Knight, a farmer and soldier who was a Unionist despite being a Southerner.  In the middle of the war, Knight led a group of Confederate Army deserters, farmers, and slaves in rebellion against the Confederacy, declaring the area around Jones County, Mississippi a sovereign, anti-slavery independent state.

Hence, The Free State of Jones.  Knight's story, which also found him establishing a mixed race Southern community after the war and continuing his efforts through Reconstruction, has a lot of obvious lures as a movie, not the least of which is his marriage to Rachel, a former slave herself.

With McConaughey bringing the controversial figure to life, with Beyond the Lights MVP Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Rachel, and Keri Russell and Mahershala Ali, who made a big impression in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, also lending support.

Principal photography on the film just kicked off in and around New Orleans, Mississippi, which STX Entertainment announced by unveiling this first look image of McConaughey in action:

The Free State of Jones is written and directed by Gary Ross, helming his first film since delivering a critically acclaimed mega-hit with 2012's The Hunger Games.  The four-time Oscar nominee previously directed the excellent Pleasantville and Seabiscuit.  And he even co-wrote the beloved Big.

“I am thrilled to be continuing a relationship with Gary Ross that began with Seabiscuit," declared Adam Fogelsong, chairman of co-financier and distributor STX. "He’s an incredible filmmaker with a unique visual style, and with The Free State of Jones he brings a compelling and impactful untold story that is gritty and thrilling while also being heartfelt and intelligent. We are extremely proud that this is one of the first films STX Entertainment will be bringing to audiences.”

The Free State of Jones is scheduled to open in theaters nationwide on March 11, 2016.

Here's the synopsis:

Set during the Civil War, ‘The Free State of Jones’ tells the story of defiant Southern farmer Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers, and with the assistance of local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones. His marriage to a former slave, Rachel, and his subsequent establishment of a mixed race community was unique in the post-war South. Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, which distinguished him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.

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