WGN America is just hours away from airing an all-new episode of their original series, Underground. In an exclusive interview with MStars News, cast members Adina Porter and Theodus Crane talk about Pearly Mae and Zeke's high stakes journey for freedom.
As we previously mentioned, the period drama takes place in the antebellum South as a band of plantation slaves attempt to make a perilous escape. During this time period, the slaves at the plantation risk everything for a chance at freedom. They all want to head on over to the North and escape to the Underground Railroad. Underground will also examine the lives of slaveholders, slave hunters, and abolitionists.
Before Troubled Water airs on WGN America Wednesday, April 13 at 10pm, the Underground cast discuss how they became involved with the project and how the story's historical significance had an impact on them.
MStars News: Tell me about first being cast as your characters.
Adina Porter: I've worked with Anthony Hemingway, who was our executive producer and directed the first four episodes. I had an opportunity to work with him on True Blood and in Newsroom. I knew the amazing director that he is. He's a fan! I want to keep him as a fan! I wanted to do a great job!
Theodus Crane: I felt very honored to be honest. A lot of the experiences that I have are related back to my family. When I went into this profession, my mother was specifically very encouraging. It was rewarding to me! I had a nontraditional route, trying a lot of different occupations. When I told her I was going to be an actor, she was very happy about it! What I came to realize that after I booked this. This is what my mother had in mind when I I told her I was going to be an actor. It was telling stories like these. I was more than anything grateful to have this experience and tell this kind of story. I've never seen her prouder when she talks about this kind of work.
MStars News: Tell me about filming on location.
AP: Well, because we are shot in what were real slave quarters and what was a former plantation, I felt very respectful. I don't think I was the only one. I think Noah complained about the heat, the bugs or anything else, because how dare we? And lots of times I felt like it wasn't about acting but just reacting because if the walls could talk.
I think we became a very close-knit group, and we still communicate with each other, and I think that was pretty spectacular.
TC: I agree completely with that. I feel - honestly, I'm in awe of everybody that I worked with. Everybody just did such great work. And, you know, when I wasn't - when I was on set just watching, you know, either waiting or waiting for or just finishing what I had to do, just watching everybody do their job just so well was just an experience in itself. Being on a slave - in slave quarters, I think that's going to be the general consensus. It was just a humbling experience.
But also, you know, just being in the presence of such consummate professionals was also a humbling experience, for me at least. You know, just, you know, being there and watching everybody just do such great work just left me in awe on more than one occasion.
In our recent recap, as the Noah and group separated, Cato betrays Zeke (Crane) and shoots him in the leg. Even though he was wounded, Zeke fought back against the bounty hunters. After being shot at point-black, with an axe stuck to his back, Zeke finally collapsed. In order to protect her daughter, Ernestine poisons Pearly Mae (Porter) and slits her wrist to make the murder look like a suicide.
MStars News: Did you know about your character's deaths?
AP: I knew when taking the role that there would be a five-episode arc. That's one of the things I actually kind of enjoyed about it, because I had no - when I first auditioned for the role - for the program, I auditioned for Ernestine. And when - after I left the audition, I said to my manager, I don't know if I want to go into this world for 10 episodes and maybe even more, to have to go to that ugly place for 10 or more episodes. And then they asked me to come in to sing and read for Pearly Mae, and I thought, "Okay, I could - I can go there for five episodes."
Misha took me aside. I don't remember if we were doing two or three, but she took me into her trailer and she explained how Pearly Mae was going to die. And I remember being blown away by that storyline and I thanked her for trusting me that I could pull that off.
TC: I actually had a very similar experience. When Misha brought me into the trailer, she actually showed me an illustration from a comic book, and that pretty much was what she had envisioned like how my character went out in his blaze of glory. And I was excited from that point.
I'm a huge fan of action, and just getting to bring that kind of action to the screen was just an extreme privilege. It was a very dark place to go to, but in the time that I had I felt very privileged to be able to, you know, embody that.
MS: How would you like Noah and Rosalee to respond to your deaths?
AP: I hope my husband will listen to what I say and get my daughter to freedom. Or in heaven, I'm going to give him hell.
TC: Honestly, I hope that my part in the journey was significant enough to help the mission get accomplished.
MS: Have you had any feedback from the audience?
AP: I haven't gotten any negatives. I've - sometimes people just stop me and say, "I really love your work." And I don't know which show they're talking about and I appreciate that. I've had kids in my son's school come up to me and say, "I see you - I see you on Underground." And my son's in the third grade.
I was kind of excited that his classmates are watching! And that's the one that sticks to me at the moment. Oh, and my youngest daughter's preschool teacher, she now talks to me! She didn't talk to me before but she talks to me now!
TC: I got some really good feedback, especially on social media. But the thing that I was most concerned about was my mom honestly watching. Because it's kind of gruesome, and while I have died on screen before, it's never been anything like that. And so I was very happy that I got to watch it with her before it actually aired, just to get that out of the way. But she was very proud of that, and that was the main thing that I was concerned about.
Everybody took it really well. There was a lot of, you know, #ZekeAintDead hashtag, it became about. But honestly, as long as my mom was okay with it, that was the only real opinion that I was concerned with.
Don't forget to check out our 5 thoughts on the first 5 episodes of Underground here!
Underground continues on WGN America Wednesdays at 10pm.© 2019 Mstars News, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.