Video Interviews

Barry Jenkins on Finally Bringing Passion Project The Underground Railroad to the Screen

The Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk director and series' stars Thuso Mbedu, Aaron Pierre, and more discuss breathing life into Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize–winning novel.

by | May 12, 2021 | Comments

Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins knew from the moment he read Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Underground Railroad that he had to turn it into a series. And to do it right, he brought on board some of his longtime (and multi-award-winning) collaborators — among them composer Nicholas Britell and Joi McMillon — and assembled a cast of new and veteran actors to breathe life into the story, including breakout star Thuso Mbedu, who plays escaped slave Cora in the series. Ahead of the series’ launch on Amazon Prime Video, Jenkins spoke with Rotten Tomatoes editor Jacqueline Coley about the challenges of moving from the world of film to television and of telling a story that blends magical-realism — the “underground railroad” here is an actual train system under the earth — with heartbreakingly real and violent scenes wrenched directly from the darkest pages of American history. Coley also speaks with Mbedu and costars Aaron Pierre, Sheila Atim, Joel Edgerton, and William Jackson Harper about the casting process, working with Jenkins, and the sensitivity and care taken to ensure everyone felt comfortable and safe on set, despite the often traumatic material.

The Underground Railroad premieres Friday, May 14, on Amazon Prime Video.


On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

psychological thriller Rock 2016 wonder woman name the review Paramount Network 2015 DC Comics reviews CMT james bond ViacomCBS justice league popular Travel Channel Chernobyl Walt Disney Pictures Calendar dogs Rocky gangster basketball Hallmark Christmas movies jamie lee curtis Disney LGBT screenings hispanic Western Tubi sports vampires worst USA ITV obituary mob Hallmark Anna Paquin OneApp 2019 Paramount 71st Emmy Awards Black Mirror war Endgame BET Awards composers Holiday south america stand-up comedy lord of the rings YouTube Premium award winner Amazon Studios theme song TCM deadpool BAFTA slasher Fall TV Amazon sopranos football slashers SundanceTV TCA Awards Lucasfilm unscripted Sundance 21st Century Fox Box Office WarnerMedia Winners Sneak Peek laika comic book movie Shudder BBC One Superheroe The Academy Arrowverse streaming game of thrones Superheroes Cosplay dragons spider-man foreign GIFs parents Sundance Now Creative Arts Emmys Toys Set visit toronto Pet Sematary scene in color rotten Image Comics Extras A&E Interview Certified Fresh Video Games Comedy Music Rom-Com Funimation Holidays NBA period drama Elton John vs. anime Spring TV critics true crime The Walking Dead Fantasy Opinion Black History Month comic book movies Rocketman Mary poppins Stephen King Binge Guide adventure mockumentary NBC Polls and Games Horror 72 Emmy Awards VOD Sundance TV australia concert The Witch MSNBC 73rd Emmy Awards robots Comedy Central Drama strong female leads archives Amazon Prime Video Schedule olympics binge crossover Writers Guild of America NYCC indiana jones all-time blockbuster comic books IMDb TV superhero historical drama Netflix Christmas movies crime drama HBO Max emmy awards die hard Pacific Islander japanese PBS Sony Pictures best chucky Women's History Month TV Exclusive Video Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt disaster doctor who E! festival technology spy thriller 2017 Film Festival video on demand versus spanish TBS elevated horror quibi Nickelodeon zombies CBS All Access Wes Anderson Red Carpet President Fox Searchlight series twilight documentary Summer mission: impossible cancelled suspense History Teen Mary Poppins Returns kaiju posters sitcom asian-american Broadway live event live action RT History E3 screen actors guild TIFF new star wars movies hispanic heritage month ABC Family Turner Classic Movies Emmys supernatural mutant venice 2020 Awards sequels saw ABC Signature BBC Lifetime El Rey a nightmare on elm street space Instagram Live TLC Tokyo Olympics harry potter casting TV renewals book adaptation new zealand trailers indie blockbusters Neflix Podcast docudrama CNN Pirates Musical sag awards Winter TV 24 frames Heroines biopic kids prank Cartoon Network based on movie Syfy Nominations Alien Pixar stop motion Disney streaming service Universal Pictures news comics rt labs Epix nature WGN Reality Competition Comics on TV breaking bad singing competition japan USA Network teaser natural history DGA ID 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Mystery police drama child's play SXSW Apple TV Plus 007 Musicals scary rt archives rt labs critics edition Britbox Hulu aapi 2018 New York Comic Con book Television Academy Comic-Con@Home 2021 facebook Biopics halloween tv YA Adult Swim talk show Marathons PaleyFest Freeform First Reviews 4/20 99% Hear Us Out Pop TV comic BET game show Masterpiece ghosts IFC Photos Paramount Plus telelvision stoner reboot psycho golden globe awards Apple TV+ Lifetime Christmas movies Warner Bros. Marvel video anthology Chilling Adventures of Sabrina CW Seed Netflix Premiere Dates OWN superman black heist movie dramedy 93rd Oscars Disney Plus rotten movies we love Brie Larson Baby Yoda VH1 ESPN First Look golden globes dexter SDCC fresh zero dark thirty canceled TV shows witnail Reality DC Universe FXX movie razzies nfl Crackle Discovery Channel worst movies cancelled TV series miniseries Food Network free movies christmas movies jurassic park science fiction joker criterion Mindy Kaling toy story art house MCU FX Song of Ice and Fire adenture ratings HBO Go animated canceled GLAAD black comedy YouTube cults LGBTQ adaptation pirates of the caribbean cinemax Ghostbusters Legendary Spectrum Originals GoT Amazon Prime aliens cats royal family cops social media Watching Series American Society of Cinematographers Family Emmy Nominations Avengers critic resources X-Men 2021 National Geographic Comic Book Country Action DirecTV TV Land action-comedy monster movies boxoffice Columbia Pictures feel good genre Oscars marvel comics TCA 2017 spain docuseries Esquire high school Showtime Mary Tyler Moore Spike discovery sequel rom-coms Trivia Peacock tv talk The CW MTV Character Guide romantic comedy Bravo Animation festivals RT21 AMC Plus know your critic international hollywood films cancelled television satire streaming movies Sci-Fi what to watch italian biography cancelled TV shows television Crunchyroll richard e. Grant Classic Film DC streaming service The Walt Disney Company Turner Quiz Ellie Kemper politics See It Skip It travel classics Best and Worst 20th Century Fox thriller Super Bowl Captain marvel children's TV legend Star Wars Tumblr hidden camera renewed TV shows Disney Channel Christmas 45 debate Cannes Ovation HBO dreamworks Year in Review San Diego Comic-Con french franchise documentaries king arthur BBC America Pop 90s werewolf young adult Nat Geo directors spider-verse crime thriller movies blaxploitation fast and furious Star Trek comiccon TV One FOX TCA Winter 2020 boxing Trophy Talk Tarantino spanish language latino Apple serial killer Infographic cars Television Critics Association TNT medical drama halloween APB Lionsgate cooking YouTube Red TCA target dc green book The Arrangement remakes women Acorn TV king kong Martial Arts new york PlayStation Countdown Vudu comedies Mudbound Starz hist Disney+ Disney Plus ABC VICE universal monsters revenge Shondaland marvel cinematic universe Awards Tour CBS TruTV scary movies mcc Universal political drama The Purge FX on Hulu scorecard dceu godzilla A24 Tomatazos Kids & Family kong romance Dark Horse Comics Valentine's Day Pride Month Fox News dark Film TV movies 1990s Trailer batman Marvel Television diversity spinoff Logo IFC Films independent Marvel Studios Election zombie Academy Awards Thanksgiving Grammys finale crime transformers AMC cartoon nbcuniversal