America vs. Billie Vacation Forged & Actual-Life Character Information
The United States versus Billie Holiday will play Andra Day as an American jazz icon; We review the cast and how it compares to the real numbers.
The United States versus Billie Holiday offers a star performance by Andra Day, supplemented by a strong cast that takes on the role of real characters. Based on Johann Hari’s 2015 book Chasing the Scream, the 2021 Hulu film focuses on America’s war on drugs and how a famous blues singer became the number one public enemy, at least according to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. The USA vs. Billie Holiday was directed by the American filmmaker Lee Daniels.
In the US against Billie Holiday, the singer gained government attention after performing “Strange Fruit,” a song about lynching black Americans. Holiday refuses to remove the number from her set, leading Harry J. Anslinger – the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics – to set the singer up on her well-known heroin problem. FBI agent Jimmy Fletcher is hired to frame Holiday but ultimately becomes part of her inner circle and even her lover. The Hulu movie mostly follows the singer’s life in the 1940s.
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The main cast of The United States vs. Billie Holiday on Hulu mostly features people who were close to Holiday in real life, many of whom made their drug addiction problem possible. Garrett Hedlund plays a prominent role as Anslinger, but Day is indeed the main attraction alongside Trevante Rhodes as Fletcher. Here is a cast and character breakdown for The United States vs. Billie Holiday, including side-by-side images for key historical figures.
Andra Day as Billie Holiday
Andra Day plays the legendary blues singer Billie Holiday. After performing “Strange Fruit,” she is targeted by the US government to spin the narrative from racial injustice to substance abuse. Holiday knows the FBI doesn’t have strong evidence, but understands that they can easily manipulate the narrative to their advantage. Day pronounced Sweet Tea in Cars 3 and appeared as Minton’s Singer in Marshall. She received two Golden Globe nominations for her performance in the US against Billie Holiday.
Trevante Rhodes as Jimmy Fletcher
Trevante Rhodes plays Jimmy Fletcher, a real-life FBI agent who was responsible for arresting Holiday in order to later develop a romantic relationship with her. As a soldier, Fletcher initially appears stoic while working for the government, but eventually develops a drug problem while out with Holiday. Rhodes headlined Barry Jenkins’ film Moonlight as Black in 2016. He also appeared as Nebraska Williams in The Predator and Tom in Bird Box.
Garrett Hedlund as Harry Anslinger
Garrett Hedlund portrays Harry Anslinger, the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics at the US Treasury Department, who believes that Holiday is playing “the music of the devil”. Hedlund played as Sam Flynn in TRON: Legacy and Dean Moriarty in On the Road. He also appeared as Johnny Five in Inside Llewyn Davis and Jamie McAllan in Mudbound.
Natasha Lyonne as Tallulah Bankhead
Natasha Lyonne appears as Tallulah Bankhead, a Hollywood actress and the red-haired friend of Holiday, who warns the singer of impending threats. Lyonne portrayed Jessica in American Pie and starred as Nicky Nichols in Orange Is the New Black. She also directed the Netflix show Russian Doll as Nadia Vulvokov and voiced Suzette on Big Mouth.
Melvin Gregg as Joe Guy
Melvin Gregg portrays Joe Guy, a trumpeter struggling with a drug addiction. He is also romantically linked to Holiday. Gregg appeared as Erick Scott in High Flying Bird and Marcus Parrish in The Way Back. He is currently portraying Drew “Manboy” Miller in Snowfall.
Tyler James Williams as Lester Young
Tyler James Williams portrays Lester Young, a saxophonist in Holiday’s Band known as “Prez”. William starred as Chris in Everybody Hates Chris and played Lionel Higgins in Dear White People. He also appeared as Noah in The Walking Dead.
Rob Morgan as Louis McKay
Rob Morgan appears as Louis McKay, a businessman originally known as a “boxer and pimp”. He eventually marries Holiday, abuses her, and then disappears. Morgan portrayed Turk Barrett in Daredevil, Hap Jackson in Mudbound, and Officer Powell in Stranger Things.
Erik LaRay Harvey as James Monroe
Erik LaRay Harvey portrays James Monroe, Holiday’s first husband, who berates her while trying to please the promoters. Erik LaRay Harvey appeared as Willis “Diamondback” Stryker in Luke Cage on Netflix and Del Chance in Godfather of Harlem.
Clay Bell as John Levy
Tone Bell portrays John Levy, the owner of the Ebony Club, who has a sexual relationship with Holiday. Like many men in the film, he puts on a confident facade, but shows poor judgment behind closed doors. Tone Bell portrayed Carter in Disjointed and Scott Evans in The Flash. He recently appeared in Fam as Nick.
The United States versus Billie Holiday Supporting Cast & Characters
Leslie Jordan (above) as Reginald Lord Devine: A radio show host interviewing Holiday throughout the film. He is a fictional character who asks inappropriate questions about the singer’s personal life. Leslie Jordan portrayed Mr. Blackly in The Help and Beverley Leslie in Will & Grace. He currently appears as Phil in Call Me Kat.
Miss Lawrence as Miss Freddy: Holiday’s stylist and member of her inner circle. She is with the singer during the interview with Reginald Lord Devine. Miss Lawrence portrayed Miss Bruce in Star and also appeared in the second season of Empire.
Dusan Dukic as Joe Glaser: Billie’s manager at the beginning of the film. He seems to be doing his job; However, his client describes him as “crooked”. Dusan Dukic portrayed a drug dealer in The Terminal and a newscaster in Birdman.
Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Roslyn: Billie’s good friend who wears an eye patch and provides emotional / professional support. Da’Vine Joy Randolph portrayed Carla in the Office Christmas Party, Cherise in High Fidelity and Lady Reed in Dolemite Is My Name on Netflix.
Adriane Lenox as Mrs. Fletcher: Jimmy’s mother who wants him to keep his father’s funeral business going. Her behavior changes when she discovers that her son has met Holiday. Adriane Lenox portrayed Rose Woods in Black Snake Moan and Denise Oher in The Blind Side.
Evan Ross as Sam Williams: Jimmy’s FBI colleague curious about his success. Evan Ross portrayed Jeff in Kevin, Who Lives at Home, and Messalla in The Hunger Games. He recently appeared in Star as Angel Rivera.
The United States versus Billie Holiday released on Hulu in February 2021.
Next: Andra Day & Lee Daniels Interview: USA vs. Billie Holiday
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QV Hough is a senior writer at Screen Rant. He is also a founding editor at Vague Visages and has contributed to RogerEbert.com and Fandor.
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