The story, which is said to be based on real-life events, follows Whitaker’s character Reverend Kennedy, a civil rights protest leader, who takes interest in a man named Mike Burden, an orphan who was raised by the Ku Klux Klan. But Burden decides to leave the Klan and change his ways after falling for a young, single mother.
“I’ve done a whole lot of bad things in my life,” said the Burden character in the trailer. “Things I now regret.”
The Klan member is played by Garrett Hedlund, and his desire to leave the group is challenged by its leader, who’s also been a father figure to him.
Plus, the people in Reverend Kennedy’s life seemingly can’t believe he’s decided to help Burden, his girlfriend and her baby find a place a stay. “You don’t leave the Klan, daddy, it’s in you,” the reverend’s son tells him.
But Whitaker’s character is steadfast in his mission of love and acceptance, although he also struggles personally with what he’s doing.
“They may set crosses in the middle of the night, but we will fill the night with a different kind of fire,” he says about the Klan during the trailer.
Usher can also be seen in the clip, and he seems to join the reverend in his mission to help Burden. Crystal Fox, from “The Haves and the Have Nots,” is in the film as well.
Whitaker talked about the buzzed-about film in a 2018 interview and why his character chose to help a Klansman.
“He recognizes that this person Mike has this door that’s opening, maybe. If the reverend is able to walk by his own prejudices and stuff and, like, really love in the way he’s tested himself.”
“It’s a pure test of whether or not he can love who was his enemy and through that love move that person and himself to become more full human beings,” he added.
The film was a hit at Sundance in 2018 and won the Audience Award. It’ll be released on February 28.