Get Ready for Ethan Hawke in Showtime’s Good Lord Bird

Ethan Hawke will be coming to a TV near you. The actor will star, co-write, and executive produce Good Lord Bird, an eight-part Showtime series based on the James McBride novel of the same name. Author Mark Richard (Hell on Wheels) is set to produce, and Anthony Hemingway (American Crime Story) is to direct and executive produce.

Hawke, a novelist in his own right, will play 19th-century abolitionist John Brown. But the series is told from the point of view of Onion, an enslaved teen who joins Brown during the time of Bleeding Kansas. He eventually participates in the 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry. Though Brown’s raid failed to initiate the revolt he wished, it was the instigating event of the Civil War.

“Good Lord Bird is one of my favorite books,” Hawke said, “told with wit, grace and wisdom by great James McBride. Bringing this story to the screen has been a passion project of mine, and I am incredibly fortunate to have partners who equally enthusiastic and are making it a reality—my wife and producing partner Ryan Hawke, and my longtime friends at Blumhouse. I’m looking forward to working for the first time with the talented folks at Showtime and Anthony Hemingway—both of whom have made some of the best television in the last couple years.”

McBride, who will serve as an executive producer, has high praise for Hawke. “This is just the right for The Good Lord Bird. I wrote it to show we Americans are family—dysfunctional, screwy, funny, even dangerous to one another at times, but still family nonetheless. Old John Brown always had a knack for landing into the right place at the right time. 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.

Good Lord Bird is expected to air in 2020.