George R. Tillman’s upcoming film adaptation of Angie Thomas’ bestselling YA novel The Hate U Give ran into a major snag earlier this year, when video of one of the movie’s co-stars, YouTube performer Kian Lawley, resurfaced on the internet, showing the actor using racial slurs. Given that Thomas’ book is a racially-informed examination of the aftermath of a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager—and that Lawley was playing the white boyfriend of the young black woman who witnessed the shooting—it wasn’t a huge surprise when he was fired from the film back in February, forcing the nearly completed movie to go back into reshoots. Now, Deadline reports that Tillman has found Lawley’s replacement, casting Riverdale star K.J. Apa in his place.
Tillman is making the movie over at Fox, with Amandla Stenberg as Starr, a young prep school student who’s struggling to balance her very different school and home lives when she witnesses a childhood friend get shot by a jumpy cop. Stenberg’s co-stars include Common and Regina Hall as Starr’s parents, Russell Hornsby as her uncle, and Issa Rae as the community activist who helps her find her voice.
The situation with Apa is reminiscent of the recent race-against-the-clock faced by Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World, which was forced to recast a central role with Christopher Plummer after allegations of sexual assault were levied against Kevin Spacey. Apa’s reshoots won’t be so dramatic, though, both because the adaptation hadn’t entirely finished filming, and because there hasn’t been an announced release date that Tillman and co. have to hit. (Still, we’re really hoping “getting Christopher Plummer-ed” enters the cultural lexicon for situations like this, if only because it’s kind of fun to say.)