Felicity Huffman Is a Reviled Prosecutor in Ava Duvernay’s New Series, When They See Us

In a new trailer for Duvernay’s Central Park Five miniseries, Huffman stars as the Manhattan prosecutor turned novelist Linda Fairstein.

When They See Us
Courtesy Netflix

In her Twitter bio, Ava Duvernay describes herself as a “Mom of 10,” and her tenth child is about to emerge into the world. Next month, the Selma and A Wrinkle in Time director’s latest effort, the four-part drama When They See Us, will premiere on Netflix. The series is a dramatization of the case of the Central Park Five—a group of five teenagers of color who, though innocent of the crime, were convicted of a brutal 1989 rape of a white woman jogger—over the course of 25 years, from the aftermath of the crime to their 2002 exoneration and 2014 settlement.

The first, brief trailer for When They See Us debuted last month, and on Friday, a little more than a month out from the premiere, and on the 30th anniversary of the crime itself, Netflix released a second, lengthier trailer. And this time, there’s a whole lot of Felicity Huffman.

In the series, a blonde-wigged Huffman plays Linda Fairstein, then a sex-crimes prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, now a crime novelist. The show is, according to the New York Times, “what appears to be Felicity Huffman’s first acting appearance since pleading guilty in the college admissions scandal”—she has a few other projects pending, the Times noted, but When They See Us looks to be the first one coming out. (Huffman’s recent legal troubles may even benefit the series, given that Fairstein became something of a reviled figure for her role in the case.)

But the real focus of Duvernay’s series is the five young men who were wrongly convicted of the crime. “Why are they doing us like this?” one boy wonders, tearfully. “What other way they ever do us?” another replies. She cast five unknown young actors to play the boys—Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise—who are subjected to harsh interrogations, not permitted to contact their parents, and publicly villainized in the course of the investigation. In the trailer, there’s a brief flash of the actor Niecy Nash watching as Donald Trump’s infamous ad in support of bringing back the death penalty flashes on the screen.

The show also stars John Leguizamo as the father of one of the young men, The Wire’s Michael Kenneth Williams—who says, in the trailer, “The police will do anything: lie on us, lock us up; they will kill us”—as another, Vera Farmiga as the prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer, as well as Famke Janssen, Dascha Polanco, and Storm Reid, the star of Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time adaptation. See the full trailer, below.