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Rapper-Turned-Actor Common to Star in AMC’s New Pilot, Hell on Wheels

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Rapper-turned-actor, Common, has been cast in one of the lead roles in AMC’s newest pilot, Hell on Wheels. Hell on Wheels is a contemporary western that centers on the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. The musician-actor most recently starred in the 2010 movie Just Wright, playing a basketball player who falls in love with his trainer, Queen Latifah. He also appeared in the hit comedy Date Night with Steve Carell and Tina Fey.

Common is a two-time Grammy-winner. Hell on Wheels marks Common’s first leading role on television.

“Common brings a layered intensity to a very complex role,” said Joel Stillerman, Senior Vice President of Programming, Production and Digital Content. “This part required someone who can transcend the stereotypes of the period and bring the character to life in a truly unique way, and he brings that. We are thrilled to have him join our cast.”

Common will take on the role of Elam, a freed slave who comes west seeking work on the railroad and his place in the world. As a half black, half white man he does not completely belong to either world

In 2007, Common appeared with Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Piven, and Alicia Keys in the crime film Smokin’ Aces. He made his big screen debut as villainous Mob enforcer Sir Ivy. He appeared alongside Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, The RZA and T.I. in the 2007 crime thriller American Gangster. In 2008, he starred in the film adaptation of the comic book Wanted alongside Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie; and was cast as the Green Lantern/John Stewart in the live adaptaton of The Justice League. Common also appeared in the movie Street Kings alongside Keanu Reeves, Hugh Laurie, The Game, and Forest Whitaker. He also appeared in the 2009 film Terminator Salvation as John Connor’s lieutenant Barnes.

Hell on Wheels was created and written by Joe and Tony Gayton (Faster/Uncommon Valor/Salton Sea /Bulletproof) who will also executive produce. The project was developed by Endemol USA. Jeremy Gold, Endemol’s SVP of Scripted Programming will executive produce. David Goldberg is Chairman of Endemol North America. E1 Television CEO John Morayniss and SVP creative affairs Michael Rosenberg will oversee production. David Von Ancken (Seraphim Falls/Californication) has signed on to direct the pilot and production is scheduled to begin in Alberta, Canada this August.

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