Native Son, the 1940 novel by Richard Wright, remains a literary classic for its harrowing tale about a poor, inner city young black man named Bigger Thomas who devolves into a life of crime. Though the story is almost 80 years old, its points about the inevitable tragedy of a person born into a rat-infested slum with no options unfortunately remain relevant today.
That painful reality is addressed in the forthcoming HBO film that modernizes the story — but with some unexpected twists.
For starters, Bigger Thomas is not a hip hop-loving sneaker fiend as might be expected, but instead a green-haired bike messenger obsessed with punk music and culture. Ashton Sanders, star of the Oscar-winning 2016 film Moonlight, is Bigger in this 21st century adaptation — and the character whose hopes for a better life go completely awry when a new job leads Bigger to make choices that ultimately send him on a journey to his own personal hell.
Directed by Chicago visual artist/first time director Rashid Johnson with a screenplay from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, Native Son also stars Sanaa Lathan, and David Alan Grier. Check out the trailer above.
Native Son premieres on HBO April 6.