Jurnee Smollett-Bell has been selected as a lead for HBO's upcoming supernatural racial drama Lovecraft Country. It is based on the book of the same name.
After she was said to be one of the top picks among networks during the broadcast pilot season, it seems that Bell has opted to go with a leading role on a high-profile project at the premium cabler, which reunites her with Underground showrunner Misha Green. This also puts Bell back at HBO, where she was a series regular on True Blood.
Green is the scriptwriter and executive produces with Jordan Peele through his Monkeypaw Productions and JJ Abrams through Bad Robot. Ben Stephenson and David Knoller also executive produce. Yann Demage is directing the pilot and executive produces. Warner Bros Television is the studio.
Focusing on members of two black families and described as "a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism," here's the story "Lovecraft Country" tells, courtesy of the publisher: Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours. At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.
Bell will star as Leti Dandige, "who hustled her way across the country as an artist protesting for civil rights who now finds herself back home looking to plant some roots."
Critics call the book a "brilliant" and "wondrous" work that combines historical fiction, pulp noir and "Lovecraftian" (named after horror fiction author H. P. Lovecraft) horror and fantasy.
Bell earned rave reviews for her role in the critically-acclaimed Underground, which was canceled at WGN.