Season two of WGN’s 10-episode, hour-long hit series Underground, follows an unremitting struggle for freedom within a divided America on the brink of civil war, each side vying to enact their own justice. Set in the aftermath of the Macon 7’s daring attempt to stage the greatest escape in history, this group of American heroes continues on their harrowing journey to freedom, with legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman blazing the trail.
We sat down with the show’s stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Aldis Hodge to the discuss what fans can expect. Be sure to tune in on Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Congratulations on the new season. Can you tell us about the relationship has evolved between Rosalee and Noah?
Aldis: How can we say it without spoilers?
Aldis: Well, see where we end off, so Noah has been in jail this entire time. By the time we come back to the first episode, we haven’t seen each other.
Jurnee: In months.
Aldis: So we don’t really know what’s going on, so the love is still strong, but there’s a lot of curiosity. We’ve both had our personal journey of growth, so that coming into the rest of the season, how it plays out, you’ll see a very different side of how they relate.
Jurnee: Yeah, it’s almost like, Rosalee and … I was going to say, Noahlee.
Jurnee: #noahlee. Rosalee and Noah are like, star crossed lovers. I mean, the love is there, but the circumstances are just so unfortunate that prevent them from really being able to just live a happy life.
Aldis: If I may say, it feels kind of Romeo and Juliette in nature.
Jurnee: Yeah, it is. You know If in any other time and any other moment, they would be able to just settle down, and have a family and live happily ever after, but unfortunately, the environment prevents that from happening again and again. So the struggle for them is to just get back together. Rosalee wants to break Noah out of prison.
Aldis: That’s if they can get back together.
Jurnee: And I think the beautiful thing about the way Misha and Joe write is, these stories are so relatable. They just put that storyline in this time period. We can just see ourselves in these characters.
Absolutely. Can you speak a little bit about Rosalee? She’s more on the forefront. She’s out on the Underground Railroad. Can you speak a little bit about the journey that she’s taking this season?
Jurnee: Rosalee has really become a completely different person. Yet, that person was always inside of her. She just was trapped in the big house in season one. We see in season two how she’s run to the north, gained her own freedom and realizes that freedom’s not so free. The sacrifices, she has to pay for her own freedom, she can’t live with that. She can’t sacrifice her family. She can’t sacrifice Noah, so she’s got to go back and rescue them.
In that process, she’s been trained up by Harriet Tubman to be soldier. She knows how to work this Underground system and how to transfer cargo. In the process, she’s really become a soldier. Not just in the sense of being a gun slinger, which she is, but mentally. She’s strong. She’s tough and she’s smart. She’s always been super intelligent and knows how to engineer things for her greater good. It’s exciting, because season two, she really comes out of her shell.
There’s so many themes in this show that resonate with what’s going on today in America. Can you reflect on that a little bit? It’s a little bit of a heavy question.
Aldis: Heavy. It’s honest. It’s an honest question. It’s unfortunate that there so many ties, but I think the beauty of being on show like this, where there is relevance is you can go back and see what was done, that you don’t want to repeat. You can go back and see the progress and the productivity of being, I guess, being open. You know, and understanding the true values of what it means to be in this nation.
It’s great when you have an example and you can be a part of an example, that continues to teach people how to look above and go beyond, our own fears and stereotypes. If we can be that, or at least be a part of that as we stand today, that’s fantastic. You know, as artists, it’s nice to pepper your work with something that actually effects your audience in a way beyond entertainment.
Jurnee: Yeah. The theme of this season is citizen versus soldier. Which really challenges all of us, because we see what happens when we are complacent. When we’re bystanders.
Aldis: Just being a citizen.
Jurnee: Yeah, and we see the necessity of being a soldier and rising up, and resisting wrong. Not letting our nation go back to this time. I think one thing I love so much about our characters is, this season they’re running towards danger. They’re taking the fight head-on and that takes a lot of courage to do what no one else is willing to do.