'Crown Heights' tells true story of long fight to free a man jailed for a crime he didn't commit

Honored that Crown Heights has been featured by the Los Angeles Times! Read the full length feature article here.

Actor Nnamdi Asomugha, from left, Lakeith Stanfield, Natalie Paul and writer/director Matt Ruskin from the film, "Crown Heights", at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Taylor Jewell / Invision/AP)

Actor Nnamdi Asomugha, from left, Lakeith Stanfield, Natalie Paul and writer/director Matt Ruskin from the film, "Crown Heights", at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Taylor Jewell / Invision/AP)

Steven Zeitchik

“I don’t think you can understand. Carl was my angel,” Warner said in a phone interview from Georgia, where he lives with his wife and daughter. “But he was in prison too because he lost so much.”

Ruskin said King’s level of devotion took on an almost existential component.

“What struck me is how Carl couldn’t go back to being business as usual,” said the director, an indie filmmaker who wooed the principals after they had previously sold options to Warner Bros. and DreamWorks. (The project came to Hollywood’s attention with an extended “This American Life” story 12 years ago.)

“It was about Colin, but it was also bigger than that for Carl. It seemed like a big piece of his identity was defined by not being OK with letting this go.”

Throughout years of film development, Ruskin recalled, King and Warner would take radically different attitudes, the former being persistent with weekly check-in calls and the latter taking an if-it-happens-it-happens approach.

“Each of their reactions was like a window into how they approached life,” Ruskin said. “Colin was just waiting and being Zen. Carl kept persevering and not taking no for an answer.”