In the thrilling series “The Good Lord Bird” viewers are faced with a creative take on the harsh period of the antebellum south, sprinkled with brilliant writing that will have you smirking at some of the most poignant scenes.
Ethan Hawke plays the legendary, animated, and often troubling John Brown who’s constantly fighting for a better future.
“He’s such an inflammatory, incendiary person. I mean he’s a hard person to make sense out of. A fervent Christian who’s willing to take up arms. He’s so full of contradictions. So much love and such a family man and such a fighter.”
His right-hand man…or woman I should say…is played by Joshua Caleb. “Onion” is a young slave boy hiding undercover as a young girl just trying to make it through the world alive. Through his quest for a safe life…he experiences a coming of age story.
“This role is very complex, so many different sides of Onion. What really attracted me to the role and wanting me to play the role of Onion was the complexity. Onion really allowed myself as Joshua to grow up and mature faster just like Onion had to do in the actual show.”
One of the most intriguing characters is Frederick Douglass, a brilliant yet conflicted abolitionist played by Daveed Diggs, who is no stranger to playing historical figures in American History. “I nerded out on Frederick Douglass for months because I really wanted to get this right, and then we shot it.” Diggs was contacted early on by Hawke who encouraged him to read the original book before signing on to the role.
“I opened the book and I read it in two days, and I’m not a fast reader. I laughed so much and it was so poignant and such an incredible slice of history. I learned so much and I laughed so much, and I hit up Ethan immediately. I was like, what do I have to do? Yes! If I’m ever going to do another historical figure this is the way to do it I think, this deeply human ‘King of the negros.’”
It all comes from the mind of James McBride who wrote the original novel back in 2013. “I became fascinated with how this guy had taken on the issue of slavery and then I became fascinated with his personality. He was this very religious guy who said slavery was wrong, I just became enamored with him. Then I wanted to figure out a way to tell the story that would not insult people but rather make them smile and make them feel good about getting out of bed. So, how do you do that with American slavery? But I think we succeeded in this case, partly because of the story structure and partly because of the great acting and great production.”
The “Good Lord Bird” premieres on October 4th on Showtime and is sure to make a mark on television history.