Wright’s novel is set in the ‘30s on Chicago's South Side. The protagonist, 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, comes of age as he grapples with his economic circumstances, racism, and political dissonance. The novel explores Bigger’s bouts of violence which he ultimately cannot outrun.
The book has been adapted two previous times, once in 1951 and again in 1986. This HBO adaptation is directed by Rashid Johnson from a screenplay written by Suzan-Lori Parks, and will place Bigger in contemporary Chicago. In the trailer for the new movie, Bigger, played by Moonlight stand-out Ashton Sanders, is seen wearing a leather jacket, his hair dyed green, as he navigates life in the city. The film also stars Bill Camp, Kiki Layne, Nick Robinson, and Margaret Qualley.
“I’ll make my move when I decide what my move is gonna be,” says Bigger in the trailer.
Native Son comes on the heels of the Oscar-nominated If Beale Street Could Talk, an adaptation of activist and writer James Baldwin’s novel of the same name. (If Layne looks familiar, it's because she starred in Beale Street.) Both are about the unique experiences of Black men in urban America, though it’s worth noting that Baldwin was critical of Wright’s novel calling it "protest fiction" and chastising it for stereotypical depictions.
Check out the trailer for Native Son below: