Jaden Smith & Liev Schreiber Find Period Drama in 'Good Lord Bird'
So far rising star Jaden Smith, son of box office superstar Will Smith, has only taken on big studio films like After Earth and the remake of The Karate Kid (with a sequel still on the way). Now Deadline reports he's going to really test his acting chops with a lower profile, powerful period drama called The Good Lord Bird, based on the book of the same name by James McBride. The story follows Henry ‘Onion’ Shackleford (Smith), a young slave who links up with radical abolitionist John Brown (Liev Schreiber of Goon and "Ray Donovan") in 1856 Kansas, traveling the nation with his motley crew of freedom fighters. More below!
In what sounds like a tale akin to Forrest Gump, the story is from the somewhat satirical point-of-view of Onion, as he follows Brown’s historic campaign and encounters the likes of well-known history book icons like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, all leading to the famous Harper’s Ferry battle that sparked the Civil War. The book made the New York Times bestseller list, won 2013 National Book Award for Fiction, and made the Top 10 Books of 2013 lists at The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly and Oprah Magazine. It's even drawn comparisons to Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
This won't be the first time McBride's work as been seen on the big screen since he also wrote Miracle at St. Anna and Red Hook Summer for Spike Lee. But hopefully the film version of his book fares better than those less than stellar feature films. This will be a true testament as to whether or not Jaden Smith has the staying power to become a respected actor as he grows into an adult. It sounds like the material lends itself to a great drama, but we're wondering who will end up directing. Stay tuned.