Oscar-winning filmmaker Barry Jenkins and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Colson Whitehead have joined forces for a new series based on Whitehead’s ‘The Underground Railroad.’
Amazon released the first trailer on April 16 for Jenkins’ small-screen adaptation of Whitehead’s bestselling novel about a young enslaved woman named Cora (Thuso Mbedu), who embarks on a daring journey for freedom in the antebellum South.
The haunting preview opens with lines of poetry from Whitehead’s award-winning text: “’Ere I saw a dappled wonder settling across the fields / Hovering on angel wings, brandishing a blazing shield.”
Directed by ‘Moonlight’ mastermind Jenkins, the 10-episode period drama follows newcomer Mbedu’s Cora as she flees a Georgia plantation in search of the Underground Railroad and eventually uncovers a real, hidden network of engineers, conductors, tunnels and railroad tracks beneath the Southern terrain.
Other key players include Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton), on a mission to capture Cora and take her back to her enslavers; Homer (Chase W. Dillon), who accompanies and handles finances for Ridgeway; and Caesar (Aaron Pierre), who escapes the plantation with Cora.
Rounding out the cast are William Jackson Harper, Sheila Atim, Amber Gray, Peter De Jersey, Chukwudi Iwuji, Damon Herriman, Lily Rabe, IronE Singleton, Mychal-Bella Bowman, Marcus “MJ” Gladney Jr., Will Poulter and Peter Mullan.
“There is nothing here but suffering,” Pierre’s Caesar says in the trailer. “Pain and suffering. It is time to go.”
Executive produced by Jenkins, Whitehead and Brad Pitt, among others, ‘The Underground Railroad’marks Jenkins’ first major production since 2018’s ‘If Beale Street Could Talk,’ which scored multiple Oscar nominations and a win for supporting actress (Regina King).
A year prior, Jenkins landed the Oscar for adapted screenplay for 'Moonlight,' which also won best picture. Up next, he’s attached to direct a prequel to Disney’s 2019 live-action 'The Lion King.'
'The Underground Railroad' premieres May 14 on Amazon Prime Video.