“This is a character that can do anything he wants, which is very fascinating,” says Alano Miller about the cunning yet charismatic character he plays on the new WGN drama “Underground.” In our recent video chat, he adds, “My fight was about humanizing him, finding a bit of everything. I didn’t want to play him one-note. I wanted you to see, as we go through this season, his fear, his doubts, his joy, all of those things. And just how intelligent he is.”
On the program recounting the beginnings of the underground railroad system in the 19th century, Miller plays a slave named Cato. His loyalty to the plantation owner (Reed Diamond) puts him at odds with his fellow slaves, who are secretly planning an escape. Some viewers consider him to be the villain, but it’s hard to tell whose side Cato is on in this rookie show also starring Aldis Hodge and Jurnee Smollett-Bell.
In the beginning, it’s unclear whether he will join his fellow runaways or stay behind as the new overseer. For the actor, his character’s shifting motives all revolve around one central question: “What would you be willing to do to for freedom?”
“Here is a man who … has run away twice,” he explains. “He is a fighter. He is playing a game. If this is going to be his freedom, which is being an overseer, a driver, then he’s definitely going to be at the top of the food chain, no matter what, because this is all about survival. He is a product of his environment.”
You might know Miller’s face from guest spots on “NCIS,” “Person of Interest,” “Damages,” and “Jane the Virgin.” This is his first major regular series role.