Barry Jenkins on Making “The Underground Railroad,” His Most Ambitious Project | The RS Interview

This is part one of two of Rolling Stone’s conversation with director Barry Jenkins on his new series, “The Underground Railroad.” Colson Whitehead’s 2016 novel “The Underground Railroad” depicts both the savage reality of American slavery and the danger of escaping it. The story takes its fugitive protagonist, Cora, on a fantastical tour through different states via a literal locomotive, each stop featuring horrors reminiscent of real-life atrocities. It is a world that requires a deft hand to commit to film, and perhaps no one is better suited than Barry Jenkins. In films like the Oscar-winning “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” the director has married the terror of being black in America with its beauty. Still, Jenkins’ limited-series adaptation of “The Underground Railroad,” which debuts May 14th on Amazon Prime, is his most ambitious project to date. “This show scared the shit out of me,” Jenkins says. “It still scares me. I was looking for a very big apple to take a bite out of. I found that in this show. And I think I had to be terrified of this thing in order to realize I’ve got to pour so much love into it, to really open myself.”

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