By Tambay A. Obenson
If you attended the 2015 Essence Festival in New Orleans over the weekend, you may have already seen the first trailer for WGN America’s upcoming original series on the Underground Railroad, titled “Underground,” because the cast and creators were present to unveil a first-look trailer at the series, as well as participate in a panel discussion about the show.
I’ve been anticipating that the trailer will make its way online soon, but nothing yet. What I do have to share is the below first-look image from the series, as well as an official synopsis which gives us a bit more info on who the series’ main players are.
First, the official synopsis reads: In 1857, a courageous 25-year-old slave named Noah organizes a small group of fellow slaves on Macon Plantation, with the goal of escaping to the Underground Railroad and thence to freedom. The odds of success are slim; the plantation’s terrain is unforgiving, and their politically ambitious owner, Tom Macon, will surely kill anyone attempting to run. For those who make it off the plantation, the risks and uncertainties only multiply. Pursued by professional slave hunters, they will have to decide which way to turn and whether or not they can trust the strangers who offer them help.
Playing Noah is Aldis Hodge, who is described as a brave, driven and insanely clever field slave. And on the other side of the fight is Reed Diamond, who plays Tom Macon, the plantation owner and political candidate.
Joining both gentlemen are: Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Rosalee, a shy house slave with a powerful inner strength and courage; Christopher Meloni is August Pullman, a mysterious figure who walks a tightrope between morality and survival; Jessica de Gouw is Elizabeth Hawkes, a socialite who shares her husband’s abolitionist ideals; Alano Miller plays Cato, a cunning, charismatic man despised and feared by his fellow slaves; Adina Porter plays Pearly Mae, a strong-willed wife and mother; Amirah Vann is Ernestine, a fiercely devoted mother and head house slave; Marc Blucas is John Hawkes, a lawyer whose ideals clash with the legislation he’s sworn to uphold; Mykelti Williamson plays Moses, a fiery preacher;; and finally Johnny Ray Gil as Sam, Rosalee’s brother and a talented carpenter.
The project hails from Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, and is set for a 2016 premiere on WGN America.
“Underground” is created and written by Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, who serve as Executive Producers alongside writer Akiva Goldsman of Weed Road Pictures, and Tory Tunnell and Joby Harold of Safehouse Pictures.
Anthony Hemingway directs and serves as Executive Producer for the first four episodes.
I’m sure the trailer will be released online soon enough, since it’s supposed to have already premiered at the Essence Festival over the weekend. While you wait, here’s a first-look image from the series, featuring Aldis Hodge as Noah, and Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Rosalee, as she appears to be treating his wounds, likely after a lashing, in a scene from the first episode.