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Dreaming in Color: The Good Lord Bird

This article was created in paid partnership with Showtime In the latest installment of The Hollywood Reporter’s ‘Dreaming in Color,’ a series focused on amplifying talents of color, ab…

6/18/2021 12:02:00 AM

ad 'This is not a famous battle,' Ethan Hawke said of Showtime ’s TheGoodLordBird, 'there’s so many stories that get shoved down our throats, and this one is essential to understanding our nation, who we are, who we have been, and what the truth is”

This article was created in paid partnership with Showtime In the latest installment of The Hollywood Reporter’s ‘Dreaming in Color,’ a series focused on amplifying talents of color, ab…

Once Upon a Time in America, which is one of my top three favorite movies now. When I got to Virgina I went on numerous tours of the state, I visited slave holding cells, salve trails, a lot of museums. It gave me a lot of background history which fulfilled my spirit and allowed me to transfer all of that into my portrayal of Onion. In my short career so far, which I hope is much longer, it was the most fun I’ve had researching a project.”

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For Daveed Diggs, who is no stranger to genre and tonal-defying explorations of race in America through his work inHamiltonandBlindspotting, the chance to work with Ethan Hawke was hard to say no to. The fact that he would be playing American icon Frederick Douglas came second to sharing in the energy he felt from that early meeting with Hawke. “It felt special, and it felt really, really difficult. It felt like a big swing and that there were a million ways it could go wrong which is like exactly the kind of thing I’m always looking for.” Diggs’ depiction of Frederick Douglas, through Onion’s eyes, may come as a surprise for those expecting the same stoic depiction of the man they were taught about in school. “There’s something ludicrous about that kind of outsized wealth, particularly if you come from actually being enslaved…He’s participating in a society that Onion has never gotten to participate in before. To get to use that perspective to play the character is a really unique opportunity,” Diggs said, likening Douglas’ persona to that of an important truth-teller mixed with a car salesman.

Director Darnell Martin, who introduced Douglas in the third episode of the series, was a presence throughout the series, lending her expertise and insight toThe Good Lord Birdas an overall series. Hawke was quick and eager to champion her creative role. An impassioned Martin said, “I so, so, so loved this project. The shows I didn’t even direct, I watched of all of it.” She was quick to point out that much of her love for the series stemmed from current events in America and the necessity for John Brown to be recognized as the great American hero he was. “Until John Brown becomes the white messiah, Black Lives will never matter in America. That’s what white people need to emulate: John Brown…Take down statues all over America. Take down Thomas Jefferson. Put [John Brown] up.” Martin reminded us that voter suppression, policing, incarceration, are all aspects that are inherent to the fight for Black lives in America, the same fight John Brown was fighting. “The thing that terrifies white people more than anything is the John Browns, the Nat Turners, the terror of ‘oh my God, the Black people are going to take over, and fight us, and kill us, and do what we did to them.’ No. headtopics.com

No. We just want fucking equality and citizenship. It’s the same exact fight.”Hawke echoed Martin’s sentiments, noting that the statues of slave owners and Confederate generals should be torn down and replaced with statues of John Brown and all the men who fought for freedom at Harper’s Ferry. “I’m going to try to get to work on that…We gotta petition, let’s get up a statue of all those guys. They should be celebrated. It’s a great example of Black people and white people working together. We need to see we can love each other. We

canlove each other. Citizenship is not that much to ask.”  For Hawke, John Brown’s fight is a lesson that for Black Lives to truly matter, white people have to go beyond allyship. “It is the difference between the warm smile of allyship and the blood, sweat, and tears of being a co-conspirator.”

Read more: Hollywood Reporter »

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‘We Started Marching With This Story and Doors Opened’: ‘THR Presents’ Q&A With Ethan Hawke on Adapting ‘The Good Lord Bird’When Ethan Hawke first read James McBride’s bestselling book The Good Lord Bird about the radical abolitionist John Brown, he was so taken with it that he wanted to give everyone he knew a copy for… This boxer has super fast hands. Wow 🥊💥🔥.