After playing Thomas Jefferson on Broadway, Hamilton star Daveed Diggs is portraying another American legend, taking on the role of slave-turned-abolitionist Frederick Douglass in the new Showtime series The Good Lord Bird.
What is ‘The Good Lord Bird’?
Based on the 2013 National Book Award-winning novel of the same name by James McBride, The Good Lord Bird is a seven-episode limited series created by actor Ethan Hawke and screenwriter Mark Richard.
Ethan stars in the series as John Brown, the real-life abolitionist who led the raid at Harpers Ferry in the lead-up to the American Civil War, while up-and-comer Joshua Caleb Johnson plays Onion, a fictional enslaved boy whom Brown takes under his wing.
“[Onion] becomes a member of Brown’s motley family of abolitionist soldiers during Bleeding Kansas — a time when the state was a battleground between pro- and anti-slavery forces — and eventually finds himself participating in the famous 1859 raid on the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry,” Showtime says in a press release.
“Brown’s raid failed to initiate the slave revolt he intended, but was the event that started the Civil War. The Good Lord Bird weaves a humorous, dramatic and historical tapestry of Antebellum America, spotlighting the complicated and ever-changing racial, religious and gender roles that make up the American identity.”
The series also features Ellar Coltrane, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Beau Knapp, Nick Eversman, and Mo Brings Plenty; and its guest-star roster includes David Morse, Steve Zahn, Wyatt Russell, Orlando Jones, and Maya Hawke (Ethan’s daughter with ex Uma Thurman).
Who is Frederick Douglass actor Daveed Diggs?
Daveed is an actor, rapper, and songwriter best known for originating the roles of both Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton on Broadway. On television, he stars in the TNT drama Snowpiercer and voices a character in the Apple TV+ animated comedy Central Park.
On the big screen, he starred in the 2018 comedy-drama Blindspotting and will voice Sebastian in Disney’s upcoming adaptation of The Little Mermaid. And in the music scene, Daveed is a member of the experimental rap group clipping and the freestyle rap group Free Love Supreme.
The 38-year-old recently raved about his role in The Good Lord Bird in an interview with CBS Local News. “Getting to play the version of Frederick Douglass that is seen through the eyes of an early teenage boy is incredible,” he said. “It really humanizes this person who is a hero of mine and one of our American heroes.”
The series “allows [Douglass] to be flawed and it allows him to be comical,” Daveed added. “Even Frederick Douglass when he presented himself in public was not leaning into the comedy of himself. He was very much about promoting the abolitionist movement. To get to show the things that are innately humorous about him were really great.”
The Good Lord Bird premieres on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 9 p.m. EST on Showtime, which is currently streaming the series premiere for free on its website.