There’s never any way to predict what Ethan Hawke will do next. The one thing you can almost always count on is that it will never be a paycheck job. Hawke gravitates to important fare by and large, which has helped to make him one of the most respected actors in the industry. For his latest project, he’s not only sticking with those impulses, he’s bringing them to the small screen as well.

According to Deadline, Hawke has signed on to star in “Good Lord Bird” for Showtime and Jason Blum‘s Blumhouse TV shingle. Hawke will play pivotal 19th-century abolitionist John Brown in an eight part miniseries, based on the novel “The Good Lord Bird” by James McBride. Not only will Hawke star, he’ll also co-write with Mark Richard, as well as producing with Blum and company. Anthony Hemingway will direct.

Here’s a bit from Amazon about the novel:

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.

Hawke could easily dominate the television awards season with this new role. “Good Lord Bird” certainly is a series that Showtime will heavily promote. Blum and Hawke have made hits on the big screen before. Now, they turn their attention to the small screen.

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