The Great Debaters 13 years old

When the nation was in need, he inspired them to give us hope.

The Great Debaters

The true story of a brilliant but politically radical debate team coach who uses the power of words to transform a group of underdog African-American college students into a historical powerhouse that took on the Harvard elite.


Forest Whitaker
Forest Whitaker

Dr. James Farmer Sr.

Glen Powell
Glen Powell

Harvard Debater #1

Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington

Melvin B. Tolson

Gina Ravera
Gina Ravera

Ruth Tolson

Jurnee Smollett
Jurnee Smollett

Samantha Booke

John Heard
John Heard

Sheriff Dozier

The Great Debaters Cast

Name Character
Forest Whitaker He was 46, now 60 years old as Dr. James Farmer Sr.
Denzel Washington He was 52, now 66 years old as Melvin B. Tolson
Georges Wilson He was 86, 88 years old when he died as Samuel
John Heard He was 61, 71 years old when he died as Sheriff Dozier
Marcus Lyle Brown He was 37, now 50 years old as Howard Debater #1
Jermaine Williams He was 24, now 38 years old as Hamilton Burgess
Michael Mattison as White Sharecropper #1
Frank Ridley He was 110, 97 years old when he died as Security Guard
Ritchie Montgomery as Deputy
Kimberly Elise She was 40, now 54 years old as Pearl Farmer
Jurnee Smollett She was 21, now 35 years old as Samantha Booke
Fahnlohnee R. Harris as Clementine
Tim Parati as Pig Farmer
Nate Parker He was 28, now 41 years old as Henry Lowe
Denzel Whitaker He was 17, now 31 years old as James Farmer Jr.
Gina Ravera She was 41, now 55 years old as Ruth Tolson
Glen Powell He was 19, now 32 years old as Harvard Debater #1
J.D. Evermore He was 39, now 52 years old as Captain Wainwright
Jackson Walker as Pig Owner
Michael Beasley He was 18, now 32 years old as Trudell
Damien Leake He was 55, now 69 years old as Wilson
Bonnie Johnson She was 62, now 76 years old as Dr. Jennings
Stephen Rider He was 57, now 71 years old as Paul Quinn Debater #2
Donny Boaz He was 27, now 40 years old as Oklahoma City College Debater #1
Dom Flemons He was 25, now 39 years old as Juke Joint Musician #2
Rhiannon Giddens She was 30, now 44 years old as Juke Joint Musician #4

The Great Debaters Crew

Name Department
David J. Bomba as Production Design. Art
Philippe Rousselot as Director of Photography. He was 62 (now 76) years old Camera
Denise Chamian as Casting. Production
John R. Jensen as Art Direction. Art
David Crockett as Executive Producer. He was 221 (49) years old when He died Production
Hughes Winborne as Editor. He was 7 (now 21) years old Editing
Todd Black as Producer. He was 47 (now 61) years old Production
Patrick Cassidy as Set Decoration. He was 45 (now 59) years old Art
Kate Forte as Producer. She was 54 (now 67) years old Production
James Newton Howard as Original Music Composer. He was 56 (now 70) years old Sound
Oprah Winfrey as Producer. She was 53 (now 67) years old Production
Sharen Davis as Costume Design. She was 50 (now 64) years old Costume & Make-Up
Joe Roth as Producer. He was 59 (now 73) years old Production
Robert Eisele as Writer. Writing
Peter Golub as Original Music Composer. Sound
The Great Debaters poster
The Great Debaters (13 years)

When the nation was in need, he inspired them to give us hope.

  • Release day: Thursday, December 27, 2007
  • Runtime: 126 minutes
  • Budget: 15000000.00
  • Revenue: 30226144.00