'The Good Lord Bird' Trailer: Ethan Hawke Is Abolitionist John Brown In This New Showtime Series

Ethan Hawke gets intense in the first trailer for The Good Lord Bird. The new Showtime series has Hawke playing abolitionist John Brown during Bleeding Kansas, "a time when the state was a battleground between pro- and anti-slavery forces." The seven-episode limited series drops on Showtime this August. For now, watch The Good Lord Bird trailer below.

The Good Lord Bird Trailer

Well, this looks wild. I wasn't expecting a show about John Brown to lean so heavily on comedy, but here we are! Ethan Hawke is clearly reveling the chance to go a bit unhinged – he usually plays quiet, reserved characters; even when he's planning on blowing up a church in First Reformed, he remains soft-spoken. The cast here also includes Daveed Diggs as Frederick Douglas, Ellar Coltrane, who co-starred with Hawke in Boyhood, and Hawke's real-life daughter Maya Hawke playing John Brown's daughter. Here's the synopsis:

The Good Lord Bird' is told from the point of view of Onion (Joshua Caleb Johnson), a fictional enslaved boy who 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. Brown's raid failed to initiate the slave revolt he intended, but it 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 is based on the novel of the same name by James McBride, which has the following synopsis:

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.

Not only does Hawke star in the show, he's also the show's creator, serving as a writer and executive producer on the program. Look for The Good Lord Bird on Showtime August 9.