Starring Ethan Hawke as John Brown, this adaptation is based on the novel by James McBride.
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.
Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.
An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.
“[A] brilliant romp of a novel. . . . pulls off his portrait masterfully, like a modern-day Mark Twain: evoking sheer glee with every page.” —The New York Times Book Review
“You may know the story of John Brown’s unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, but author James McBride’s retelling of the events leading up to it is so imaginative, you’ll race to the finish.” —NPR
On the upcoming project, Ethan Hawke had this to say:
“It’s one of the few novels of my life where you just feel staggered. The genius of it, the imagination. He tells a story of something we’re all scared to look at, the start of the Civil War…and he does it with so much wit and so much love. And it’s so unpolitically correct that you leave so unbalanced and confused, and you realize we’re all just human beings.”
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James McBride has expressed how he believes that now is the perfect time for an adaptation of his work:
“This is just the right time 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,” McBride said. “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.”
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