Actor Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, The Gift) is set to return to television in Amazon‘s upcoming series The Underground Railroad. Adapted from Colson Whitehead’s bestselling novel of the same name and directed by Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Edgerton joins a cast that includes Thuso Mbedu, Chase W. Dillon, and Aaron Pierre and will play Ridgeway, a slavecatcher. Jenkins is set to direct all 11 episodes of the one-hour series, and will executive produce through his Pastel Productions alongside Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment.
Originally published by Doubleday Books, here’s a look Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad – winner of the 2016 National Book Award and Oprah Book Club pick:
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven—but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.