Daveed Diggs and Wyatt Russell have joined “The Good Lord Bird,” Ethan Hawke’s Showtime drama, the premium cable channel revealed during the Television Critics Association press tour Friday.
Diggs will play Frederick Douglass, the historical figure, orator and leader of the abolitionist movement. “Lodge 49” star Russell will star in several episodes as U.S. Army Officer Jeb Stuart. Hawke executive produces and stars as John Brown.
The eight-part limited event series comes from Blumhouse Television and is based on the novel of the same name by James McBride. It is set to premiere in February.
According to Showtime, “The Good Lord Bird” is told from the point of view of Onion (Joshua Johnson-Lionel), a fictional enslaved boy, who is part of Brown’s motley crew of abolitionist soldiers during the time of Bleeding Kansas, eventually participating in the famous 1859 raid on the Army depot at Harpers Ferry. Brown’s raid failed to initiate the slave revolt he intended, but was the instigating event that started the Civil War.
Mark Richard serves as showrunner, and executive produces alongside Hawke, with whom he wrote the first episode of the series. James McBride and Albert Hughes also executive produce, and Hughes directs multiple episodes. Jason Blum, Brian Taylor, Ryan Hawke, David Schiff, Jeremy Gold, Marci Wiseman and Marshall Persinger also executive produce. Other directors include Kevin Hooks, Darnell Martin and Haifaa Al Mansour.
Diggs’ Douglass is described as working with Brown and encouraging the raid on Harpers Ferry — but finds Brown’s planning and leadership style questionable and his approach dangerous, bordering on suicidal.
Russell’s Jeb Stuart is described as a no-nonsense federal army officer with orders to apprehend John Brown in Kansas. He is promoted in rank several times during his failed attempts to negotiate Brown’s surrender. Despite having some sympathy for Brown’s cause of freedom, he disagrees with his tactics of murder and coercion and is later tasked with leading the federal response to Brown’s takeover of Harpers Ferry.
Other cast members include David Morse (“Escape at Dannemora”) as Dutch Henry Sherman, Steve Zahn (“War of the Planet of the Apes”) as Chase, Orlando Jones (“American Gods”) as The Rail Man and Ellar Coltrane (“Boyhood”) as Salmon Brown. Mo Brings Plenty (“Yellowstone”), Jack Alcott (“Champagne ILL”), Nick Eversman (“The Duff”), Hubert Point-Du Jour (“Madame Secretary”) and Beau Knapp (“Shots Fired”) will also star.
Known for “Hamilton,” Diggs also co-wrote, produced and starred in the 2018 film “Blindspotting,” and has been seen on television on “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “The Get Down,” “Black-ish” and will star on TBS’ upcoming series “Snowpiercer.”
Russell is known for “Lodge 49” and will star in the upcoming film “The Woman in the Window” opposite Amy Adams. He was previously seen in “Black Mirror.”
“The Good Lord Bird” premieres Feb. 16, 2020 at 10/9c on Showtime.