Any project from Barry Jenkins is going to be among the most anticipated upcoming releases, and that’s certainly true of his Amazon limited series The Underground Railroad.
While Jenkins has slowly been teasing out little looks of the mysterious project, we’ve now gotten our first proper glance into what the series will entail, with the first official teaser trailer dropping today, along with a release date of May 14th. As expected, it is a gorgeous work that is destined to hold immense emotional power.
Based on Colson Whitehead’s 2016 novel of the same name, the series is a bit of alternate history, set in a time where the title actually represents a real life subterranean train helping slaves escape to freedom. Jenkins’ story will center on two slaves in particular as we follow them on their journey to safety, with a slave catcher chasing them down. Whitehead’s novel won the 2016 National Book Award, along with being the first book to win the Pulitzer Prize in twenty years.
The two escapees will be played by Thusu Mbedu and Aaron Pierre, with the supporting cast featuring a deep bench of talent actors, including Joel Edgerton, Aaron Pierre, William Jackson Harper, Sheila Atim, Amber Gray, Peter De Jersey, Chukwudi Iwuji, Damon Herriman, Lily Rabe, Irone Singleton, Mychal-Bella Bowman, Marcus “MJ” Gladney, Jr., Will Poulter and Peter Mullan.
After winning the Oscar for Best Picture for his sophomore feature, 2016’s Moonlight, and following it up with the critically adored If Beale Street Could Talk, all eyes were on what Jenkins was going to do next. A limited series, as opposed to a feature film, might have been a surprise, but he’s not the first major director in recent years to head to television, as we just saw last year with Steve McQueen’s masterful Small Axe anthology series, also for Amazon.
This won’t be Jenkins first time directing for television, as he helmed the acclaimed fifth episode of the first season of Netflix’s Dear White People, but The Underground Railroad is his baby, having written and directed all 11 episodes.
See the first teaser trailer below, and get ready for when Amazon debuts the limited series on May 14th: