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When news that the A&E network was remaking Alex Haley’s Roots miniseries, surely some fans of the previous incarnation envisioned who would take over the lead role of Kunta Kinte that LeVar Burton made famous. British actor Malachi Kirby has been cast in the iconic role, which has the potential to be a star-making move.

Kirby, 25, has appeared in a variety of roles since 2008 for a number of British television and film productions. The striking actor most recently starred in BBC crime drama EastEnder, and it appears the Roots casting is the biggest splash of his career.

Deadline has more:

Roots starts shooting next month in South Africa and New Orleans and will air in 2016 on Lifetime, A+E and the History Channel. Haley’s opus was previously broadcast in a landmark adaptation in 1977 with LeVar Burton in the lead role.

Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Alison McDonald and Charles Murray have written the new adaptation. Exec producers are Will Packer, Marc Toberoff, Marc Wolper, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. Burton and Korin Huggins are co-exec producers. A+E Studios International is distributing.

Laurence Fishburne was named to the cast earlier this summer. The exact date of the Roots debut on A&E has yet to be announced.

Photo: Lia Toby/WENN

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