Apple TV+’s ‘The Big Cigar’: A Simple Phone Call Might End in Broken Bones (Exclusive Clip)

Apple TV+'s new drama series The Big Cigar promises an intense and wild ride, as evidenced by an exclusive clip that shows a seemingly innocuous phone call potentially leading to dire consequences. The series tells the incredible true story of how Black Panther founder Huey P. Newton, portrayed by André Holland, attempted to escape from the FBI to Cuba with the assistance of famed producer Bert Schneider (Alessandro Nivola) in an elaborate plan involving a fake movie production that went awry in every possible way. 

In the clip from episode 103 titled "Guns & Matzah," the tensions between Huey and Eldridge (Glynn Turman), as well as Bert and Steve (PJ Byrne), escalate, underscoring the treacherous road ahead as their Cuban revolution meets Hollywood's social upheaval. The renowned ensemble cast also includes Tiffany Boone, Marc Menchaca, Moses Ingram, Rebecca Dalton, Olli Haaskivi, and Jordane Christie. NAACP Image Award winner Janine Sherman Barrois serves as the showrunner and writer, with Jim Hecht penning the first episode for the Warner Bros. Television production.

Holland, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, published May 18, shared his initial reaction to the script, saying, "When I first read it, I was like, 'Is this true?' But Joshuah Bearman, who wrote the original article, did such a great job and researched it for a very long time, and spoke to everybody. I think we can trust that the things he identified as being true and that are undergirded by facts are really what happened. We fictionalized some things in the series for sure, but it is inspired by true events." 

While the six-episode limited series revolves around a high-stakes heist of sorts, The Big Cigar aims to go beyond the surface-level thrills. Adapted from Joshua Bearman's 2012 Playboy article of the same name, the television show delves into the personal facets of Huey P. Newton's life, exploring his motivations as a social revolutionary. 

The series shines a light on the internal demons and external forces that prevented him from fully realizing his potential as a leader of the Black Panther Party and as a Black man navigating 1960s and 70s Oakland, California. Through this nuanced portrayal, the series seeks to capture the complex humanity behind Newton's iconic persona.

"I wanted to know how much of the history of the Panthers are we going to be able to get into, because the story on its face is a caper, essentially, about getting Huey out of the country and if not done well, I felt concerned that it could gloss over the important historical moments that I wanted to make sure we touched," Holland told The Hollywood Reporter.

"I also wanted to know if we had real support in the way of a historical consultant who could make sure that we were doing everything the right way, and that we were well-researched and grounded in the truth, which we did," he added. "And then we had to go make it and continue to have all those conversations and wrestle with people. It's not always a smooth thing to make such a complicated story, but that's what got me excited about it and got me on board."