When you hear about a Korean War movie, your first thought probably isn’t, “I wonder who they’re going to cast as Elizabeth Taylor?” But here we are! Devotion, a new movie from director J.D. Dillard (Sleight), is about a pair of U.S. Navy fighter pilots who “risk their lives during the Korean War and become some of the Navy’s most celebrated wingmen,” but at some point, legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor pops up in the story as well. And now Devotion has cast Serinda Swan to play the part.
Deadline broke the news that Serinda Swan, who played Medusa in the short-lived Inhumans series and also appeared on Ballers, has been cast to play actress Elizabeth Taylor in Devotion. The movie will “chart the true story of U.S. Navy fighter pilots, Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner, two young men from different worlds. Initiated together into the VF-32 squadron, they are pushed to their limits flying a new design of fighter jet. But their friendship is tested when one of them is shot down behind enemy lines.” At some point, the VF-32 squadron also comes across Taylor “during their shore leave in Cannes, France.” In other words, it doesn’t sound like Elizabeth Taylor isn’t a main character here. Still, it’s not every day we get a war movie where someone playing Elizabeth Taylor shows up.
Devotion also stars Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, and Christina Jackson. Director J.D. Dillard is in production on the movie right right now. In a separate Deadline article, Dillard says he was on the “lookout for anything with a connection to fighter pilots or naval aviation” for his next project, and that’s when he came across Jonathan Stewart and Jake Crane‘s Devotion screenplay based on the book by Adam Makos. The book’s synopsis gives us more insight and even mentions Taylor:
Devotion tells the inspirational story of the U.S. Navy’s most famous aviator duo, Lieutenant Tom Hudner and Ensign Jesse Brown, and the Marines they fought to defend. A white New Englander from the country-club scene, Tom passed up Harvard to fly fighters for his country. An African American sharecropper’s son from Mississippi, Jesse became the navy’s first black carrier pilot, defending a nation that wouldn’t even serve him in a bar. While much of America remained divided by segregation, Jesse and Tom joined forces as wingmen in Fighter Squadron 32. Adam Makos takes us into the cockpit as these bold young aviators cut their teeth at the world’s most dangerous job—landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier—a line of work that Jesse’s young wife, Daisy, struggles to accept. Deployed to the Mediterranean, Tom and Jesse meet the Fleet Marines, boys like PFC “Red” Parkinson, a farm kid from the Catskills. In between war games in the sun, the young men revel on the Riviera, partying with millionaires and even befriending the Hollywood starlet Elizabeth Taylor. Then comes the war no one expected, in faraway Korea.
Dillard’s father was also an African American naval aviator, and when the filmmaker read the Devotion script, he says he “saw an opportunity to also kind of tell my dad’s story: even though he and Jesse were separated by 40 years, the parallels were uncanny. I have a lifetime of my dad elbowing me in the ribs while we’re watching aviation movies and telling me, ‘that’s not what it looks like, that’s not what they say, that’s not what they do.’ I’ve never had a consultant I could so easily call in the middle of reading the script and ask, ‘by the way, can you give me more background on this detail or that.”
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