Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke is set to executive produce and star in a new Showtime limited series titled Good Lord Bird, based on James McBride’s National Book Award-winning 2013 novel The Good Lord Bird.
Set in pre-Civil War America, the series focuses on a young slave nicknamed Onion and famed abolitionist John Brown, the latter of whom will be played by Hawke. Good Lord Bird will be told from Onion’s perspective as he joins Brown’s band of abolitionists and wreaks havoc on supporters of slavery across the country, eventually participating in the raid on Harper’s Ferry, Va., that contributed to the start of the Civil War.
The eight-part series will be co-written by Hawke and Mark Richard, author of the bestselling novel The Ice at the Bottom of the World. It will be directed by Anthony Hemingway, who won an Emmy for directing episodes of American Crime Story in 2016 and cut his teeth as a first assistant director on HBO’s The Wire. Blumhouse Television will produce the series, and it will be executive produced by Hawke, Richard, Hemingway, McBride, Jason Blum, Brian Taylor, Ryan Hawke, David Schiff, Jeremy Gold and Marci Wiseman.
“Good Lord Bird is one of my favorite books, told with wit, grace and wisdom by the great James McBride,” Hawke said in a statement Monday. “Bringing this story to the screen has been a passion project of mine, and I am incredibly fortunate to have partners who are equally enthusiastic and are making it a reality.”
“Old John Brown always had a knack for landing into the right place at the right time,” said McBride. “I’m delighted he’s landed in the lap of one of America’s most gifted and literate actors. Ethan Hawke is special, and I’m thankful that Showtime and Blumhouse have shown faith and trust in one of America’s oddest, most profound, and greatest heroes.”