Netflix's highly anticipated adaptation of 13 Reasons Why premieres on Friday, March 31, and a very talented cast is bringing Jay Asher's characters to life. The series, which spans 13 episodes in its first season, is produced by Selena Gomez, and chronicles the 13 reasons why high schooler Hannah Baker committed suicide. Hopefully, the series will start an important conversation about mental health and suicide, especially after viewers learn Hannah's surprising final reason. Spoilers ahead. Derek Luke plays Mr. Porter on 13 Reasons Why, a guidance counselor who didn't give Hannah the support she needed on the day she chose to end her life.
It's a complex role, but with a very full acting resume, Luke should have no trouble taking it on. On the TV side, Luke played Marlon Dinard on the detective mystery show Rogue and Malcolm Deveaux on FOX's Empire, in addition to appearing on series like Hawthorne, Roots, The Americans, and more. But it's the actor's movie credits that really stand out. Luke's big break came in 2002, when he played the title character in the biopic Antwone Fisher. He's also had roles in Captain America: The First Avenger, Glory Road, Seeking A Friend for the End of the World, and more.
It's important to have established actors like Luke portraying such key roles, though unfortunately, those actors won't be joined by Gomez. Still, the singer was passionate about producing the series and her involvement should bring even more attention to this important story.
In an interview with the New York Times, Gomez explained why she won't appear in 13 Reasons Why:
"The older I got — once I left my series, once I started to go for roles that weren’t that age range — it organically began to become a project that I knew I would be behind the scenes with. I actually like that I’m not in it. To be honest, this book has such a huge following. I wanted it to be credible. If I’m a part of it, that’s going to cause a whole other conversation."
Luke will still be joined on-screen by many other talented faces. Television veteran Kate Walsh plays Hannah's mother, Parenthood's Miles Heizer portrays Alex, Amy Hargreaves is Clay's mother, and the list goes on. Between the intense subject matter and capable cast, 13 Reasons Why has every tool to open an important dialogue.