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Common Opens Up About Role in ‘Hell on Wheels’ TV Series

Jeff Schear, WireImage

November is looking to be a big month for Common. Aside from the release of his ninth studio album, ‘The Dreamer, The Believer,’ and a spot in the animated film ‘Happy Feet 2,’ the Chicago native will debut his latest acting role on the AMC series ‘Hell on Wheels.’

Set in 1865, the Western-themed show features the rapper-turned-actor playing the role of an emancipated slave trying to gain acceptance in post-slavery America. “It’s about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad,” he tells The BoomBox of the show, which is centered around a former confederate soldier who seeks revenge against the Union soldiers who killed his wife.

Although the time period is part of the story line, the racial divide during the late 1800s isn’t the basis of the show’s theme. “The story is not just based on race, but it definitely has all of the issues we deal with today but its set in the Western [era],” Common shares. “It’s dealing with some of the injustices that go on, the greed, how money and the hunger of big business can really walk over other people and racial divides.”

Over the years, Common has successfully made his transition into the acting world, appearing in over a dozen films and TV shows since 2003. Like many in hip-hop, he’s also found his way into other facets of entertainment, releasing his memoir, ‘One Day It’ll All Make Sense,’ last month. He writes about everything from his career woes to his his on-again off-again relationship with Serena Williams. Letting readers that deep into his personal life was cathartic for the ‘Blue Sky’ creator, who revealed that both fans and people close to him were surprised by his candor. “People i didn’t know [were like], ‘Yo, this is incredible! I didn’t know you were going to really open up like that and be that honest and that raw with it.’”

“The people that know me most of them are like, ‘Reading the book is fun!’ They were excited,” he continues. “I just had one of my good friends, he’s the guy who will tell me like, ‘Nah, that’s not good,’ this is the same guy who called me like, ‘This is really a good book.’ Some of the best responses I got was one of my good friends who said, ‘I felt like I was having a conversation with you. Little do people know some of the things you said sounds like you’re philosophizing in the book, but it’s really just you.’ That was a big plus to me. Don’t get me wrong, of course some ex-girlfriends were like, ‘Hold up! You aired us out,’ but at the end of the day I think everybody involved knows that it was done with respect, with truth and love.”

In the past, the 39-year-old has authored children’s books and revealed that writing his autobiography has inspired him to write more books, although he has yet to pinpoint a genre of interest.

Common debut in ‘Hell on Wheels’ kicks off on AMC Nov. 6 at 10PM.

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