“The beauty of the show is that it’s such a fast paced, on-the-move narrative,” says Jessica De Gouw as we chat via webcam (watch above) about her acclaimed new series “Underground.” In this WGN America drama about the underground railroad, she plays Elizabeth Hawkes who, along with her husband, abolitionist lawyer John (Marc Blucas), turns their Ohio home into a refuge for escaped slaves. “The stakes are always so much higher with every episode.”
When we first meet Elizabeth, she is “at a point of aimlessness,” having learned she is unable to conceive. “I think she’s a woman who has so much to give, and so much energy, and a lot of love,” explains the Australian actress. “I think the lack of her ability to give that to a child, to make a home for a child, made way for something else, and she really throws herself in wholeheartedly to helping other people escape.”
Though hesitant at first, after making the trip down South to meet John’s brother, slave-owner Tom Macon (Reed Diamond), she is quickly convinced. “You can’t un-see something like that,” De Gouw explains. “That sets up her spiral into anything and everything that comes her way, which is quite the adventure.”
Unique among period dramas, “Underground” tells its story with energy and verve, modernizing the past. “You don’t want to just force a history lesson on people every week,” she says. “You want it to be entertaining, you want it to be historically accurate, but I think it has to be a delicate balance.”
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