THE MARY SUE – WGN America is launching a new dramatic series in January 2016 called Underground, whose storyline is centered around a group of slaves, their daring escape from a plantation, and the abolitionists who help them.
Yep. I had the same reaction when I saw the press release.
To be honest, I feared that this would be, at best, 12 Years a Slave “the miniseries,” or at worst, a historically distorted narrative like Mississippi Burning. However, then I saw that John Legend’s company, Get Lifted, had signed on as the executive producers, and WGN had tapped Misha Green (Spartacus, Sons of Anarchy, Heroes) and Joe Pokaski (Daredevil, Heroes, CSI) to pen the script. Add to that an amazing cast featuring several actors whose work I enjoy, such as Aldis Hodge (from one of my favorite shows, Leverage), Jurnee Smollet-Bell (Friday Night Lights, The Great Debaters), and Christopher Meloni (Law and Order: SVU), and I decided that I must learn more about this show.
Underground’s plot is actually being promoted less like a slave narrative and more like an adventure of survival. (Less Roots, more The Defiant Ones.) When I heard that the cast would all be going to New York Comic Con, I jumped at the chance to interview some of them and ask them the one question that had been on my mind since the premise of the show was revealed:
“What was your reaction when your agent called and told you that you had just landed a starring role on a brand new show … about slavery?”
Aldis Hodge (Noah):
I thought that we had seen this narrative before, but when I read the script, that changed everything, because I realized they told an honest story we’d never seen before. They were talking about people’s strength; they told the strength of these people as opposed to the weaknesses, the victimization of it. We got to see heroes. We got to be proud of these people. We got to see how smart and intelligent they were, and we got to see where the foundation of that came from. I like to speak to everybody, and this is a show that does that. Even though we’re talking about black culture, you realize these are Americans; regardless of what they look like or what their color is, they’re all Americans.
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