After bringing in actors like Russell Crowe, Bryan Cranston, and Kevin Bacon to headline their original series, Showtime has its latest star: Ethan Hawke. The actor is set to play American revolutionary abolitionist John Brown in an adaptation of James McBride’s 2013 National Book Award-winning novel “The Good Lord Bird.” The series will follow the perspective of Onion, a teenager living in slavery in Kansas who eventually joins Brown’s group of activists. The novel also covers the events leading up to the Harpers Ferry raid, an 1859 effort to control a military arsenal that lead to a nationwide revolt against slavery as an institution. “Good Lord Bird” is planned as an eight-part series and is the latest project in the growing portfolio of Blumhouse Television.
To help bring this story to the screen, “Good Lord Bird” has tapped “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” director Anthony Hemingway to executive produce and direct the series. Hemingway previously directed the first two episodes of “The Purge” TV series and was behind the camera for half of the USA anthology series season “Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G.”
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Hawke, who is currently wrapping up a production of the Sam Shepard play “True West” in New York, has also branched out into audio fiction, playing a role in Sebastian Silva’s Gimlet podcast “Sandra” last year. This will mark his first television role in almost a decade, having previously played Starbuck in the 2011 TV adaptation of “Moby Dick,” starring alongside William Hurt. He’s also set to co-write “Good Lord Bird” along with “Hell on Wheels” and “Fear the Walking Dead” writer Mark Richards.
“Good Lord Bird” joins an upcoming slate of series for Showtime that also includes the Russell Crowe-starring Roger Ailes series “The Loudest Voice,” the ’90s-set Boston crime drama “City on a Hill,” and the ongoing quest to bring the video game franchise “Halo” to television.