Ethan Hawke may be one of the most versatile actors of his generation, but recently he’s found a real sweet spot playing zealots of all stripes. While his raving fanatic take on controversial abolitionist John Brown looks a bit higher energy than the understated suffering of his “First Reformed” minister, there are subtle similarities between the two wayward shepherds. Hawke executive produced his next project, “The Good Lord Bird,” a seven-episode limited series coming to Showtime this August. The premium channel just released an enticing first trailer for the drama, which is produced by Blumhouse Television and based on the eponymous novel by James McBride.
Here’s the official synopsis: “The Good Lord Bird’ is told from the point of view of Onion (Joshua Caleb Johnson), a fictional enslaved boy who becomes a member of Brown’s motley family of abolitionist soldiers during Bleeding Kansas — a time when the state was a battleground between pro- and anti-slavery forces — and eventually finds himself participating in the famous 1859 raid on the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry. Brown’s raid failed to initiate the slave revolt he intended, but it was the event that started the Civil War. ‘The Good Lord Bird’ weaves a humorous, dramatic and historical tapestry of Antebellum America, spotlighting the complicated and ever-changing racial, religious and gender roles that make up the American identity.”
“The Good Lord Bird” also stars Daveed Diggs (“Blindspotting”) as Frederick Douglass, who gets a humorous spotlight in this zippy preview. The rest of the cast includes Hawke’s “Boyhood” breakout star Ellar Coltrane, as well as his real-life daughter, “Stranger Things” star Maya Hawke, who will play John Brown’s daughter. Diggs’ “Blindspotting” co-star Rafael Casal will also feature, making this a reunion of sorts for the two friends and collaborators.
“The Good Lord Bird” is created by Ethan Hawke, in the actor’s first major foray into writing episodic television. He previously wrote screenplay for his feature directorial debut, “Blaze” (2018), and is credited as co-writer on Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight,” along with his co-lead Julie Delpy.
Showtime will premiere “The Good Lord Bird” on Sunday, August 9, at 10 pm ET. Check out the high-energy first trailer below: