GOLD DERBY – “When it came to representing this particular culture and this particular timeframe for American history, I wanted to show all that we haven’t seen,” says “Underground” star Aldis Hodge as we chat via webcam (watch above) about his hit WGN America series. The actor plays Noah, the leader of a group of runaway slaves who try to escape via the Underground Railroad. “I saw how smart this character was. He’s just so cunning and beguiling when it comes to how he needs to play all of these people around him like chess pieces.”
When we first meet Noah, he’s been brought back to the plantation after an unsuccessful escape attempt. “That’s why he said, ‘I need to go recruit some people,” explains Hodge, “because they have all these different skills that I need.’” This team includes the cunning and crafty Cado (Alano Miller), the shy yet courageous Rosalie (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and the fiery preacher Moses (Mykelti Williamson).
“At first, they depend on him,” he explains, “but I think along the way, at least for me personally, I feel like he depended on them. Just growing as a man, he grew in mercy, he grew in understanding, he grew in compassion for dealing with all of these people and having them obligated to him and his path. I loved the complexity in him trying to figure out what choice to make, and trying to decide whether or not it is the right choice, because there’s no easy choice.”
‘What they’re fighting for is not complicated,’ the actor says of the runaway slaves on the series
WALL STREET JOURNAL – “Underground,” the WGN America drama about an antebellum plantation and a group of escaped slaves, wrapped up its first season on Wednesday night, completing the story of the “Macon 7” and setting the stage for season two.
That second season was never a guarantee for this show, and while star Aldis Hodge wasn’t necessarily worried about that, he said that there was an effort on part of the cast and crew to pour everything into season one.
“We wanted people to remember what this was,” he said on the Speakeasy podcast. “Even if it was one season, it was one hell of a season.” In the interview, he talked about last night’s finale, how the show reflects an ongoing struggle, and how he’s handled moving into a starring role.
At the end of the finale, Hodge’s Noah is back in bondage, captured after staging a diversion that allows two others to escape to freedom. Ernestine (Amirah Vann) — after murdering her master — is put on the auction block. Cato (Alano Miller) is alive and somewhere on the road. The biggest twist comes at the very end: Rosalee (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), now free in the north, determines to go back south to get more of her family, and is brought to meet the Underground Railroad’s real-life hero, Harriet Tubman, who plans to train Rosalee.
EUR WEB – *WGN America has renewed its hit series “Underground” for a 10-episode Season 2. The runaway slave thriller has resonated with fans across racial lines, and as TV Line reports, to date, the series is averaging a million weekly total viewers.
This is not the coma-inducing Massa vs. slave narrative that I expected when the series was initially announced. “Underground” is an exhilarating prison break-style drama-thriller that keeps the cast gasping just as much as the audience – as we learned during the Emmy Gospel Brunch in honor of the series. EUR/Electronic Urban Report chatted with the cast to find out their reactions to this breathtaking first season.
“You know, we were definitely just as surprised reading the script,” Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Rosalee) told us. “Every single script we would get was a page turner for us, and the whole cast had a group text message thread. We would text each other and be like, ‘Whaaat? Did you see what happened to Kato!’ It definitely for us was the same experience. Like, ‘Wow… I didn’t see that coming,,’ ” she explained. “But the thing is, when you’re telling the story of The Underground Railroad, you’re inherently telling a story we haven’t seen. This is the voice of the revolutionaries. The voice of those who rose up and fought back. And for that reason, I think we’re hungry for that story. We’re hungry to see our people in power, because it’s the truth. We come from survivors and warriors, and I think because of that, that’s why people are so excited about the show,” she added.
Super-delicious Aldis Hodge (Noah) leads this stellar cast of “revolutionaries,” and the suspense of his scenes leaves the viewer feeling as if we’re running right alongside him.
Wow! That was some finale! It was exciting and so nice to see Rosalee and Noah have some time to themselves. I was sad that Noah didn’t make it but it was so great that he sacrificed himself and the women worked together to get Rosalee and Boo to freedom. Plus Ernestine finally had some justice for the murder of her son. But at the same time, both her anad Noah are in a bad place now. Hopefully Season 2 will show them continuing their attempts for freedom.
How great is it that the city of Memphis, TN had day to honor “Underground”. This show has really touched a lot of people.
EBONY – Najja Parker talks to Jurnee Smollet-Bell, Aldis Hodge about this oddly empowering trek back in history
Get ready to dive deep into your emotions. Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Aldis Hodge take us on a journey through their roles on WGN America’s new show, “The Underground.” This show depicts the struggle and heroic uprising of slaves while trying to obtain freedom from a system of bondage. Hodge plays the role of Noah, a strategic, determined blacksmith who plans to break free from his Southern slave masters and relocate to the North. Along the way he meets Rosalee, a house slave played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell, who has the same determination for freedom and a better life.
Tune in to this interview with our own Najja Parker at the Johnson Publishing Chicago Office as each of them explain their roles more in depth, and the knowledge they gained during the process of filming. “The Underground” premieres tonight on WGN America, check your local listings for show times.
Hodge played both the clarinet and the violin as a child, but as an adult his focus is on the violin when he purchased his first at the age of 18.
In addition to acting, Hodge designs watches, writes, paints and attends the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, although he does take breaks from attending full time due to his acting work.
The actor is best known for his role as Alec Hardison on TNT’s highly rated television series, “Leverage.” Hodge won the role of Hardison on his twenty-first birthday.
HUFFINGTON POST – For every generation, there is a television show that audaciously attempts to tackle history in a way that the American public hasn’t yet seen. In the 1970’s it was Alex Haley’s Roots, and for this generation, it’s Misha Green and Joe Pokaski’s WGN Drama, Underground.
As the show revels in its Season 2 renewal, the team behind it has launched a campaign to be considered in the upcoming round of Emmy considerations. But with a show that addresses such sensitive and intense subject matter, their efforts carry a special significance.
A few weeks ago, WGN America and Sony Pictures Television hosted a gospel brunch and exclusive pilot screening for Academy members. As audience members filed into the Beverly Hilton, the excitement was palpable.
The brunch kicked off with a power-packed performance from Jason McGee and The Choir, who delivered moving renditions of “Ride On, King Jesus” and “Walk Over God’s Heaven.” With each song, they set the atmosphere for the resilient and triumphant tone of the show. Shortly afterward, we watched the pilot episode, which opened with none other than Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead.”
TVLine – Noah, Rosalee, Cato et al are going to keep on running, now that WGN America has renewed Underground for a 10-episode Season 2.
To date, the freshman slave escape thriller is averaging a million weekly total viewers and a 0.3 demo rating — numbers that with Live+7 DVR playback swell to 3 million and 1.0. Underground improves on the cabler’s 2015-16 primetime average by 508 percent in total audience and by 1,005 percent (!) in the demo, in Live+7 numbers.
“[Underground is] a series that has resonated with so many passionate fans across the country,” WGN America president Matt Cherniss said in a statement. “We are deeply proud of the work that the talented cast, crew and production team have done to bring this story to life, led by our gifted creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski and our partners at Sony Pictures Television. It is an honor to have Underground on our air and we look forward to how the story will unfold in what is sure to be a stellar sophomore season.”
Production on Season 2 begins this summer with an eye on a 2017 premiere date. The Season 1 finale airs Wednesday, May 11 at 10/9c, preceded by an all-season marathon at 1 pm.