Rapper Common has made a nice career for himself in Hollywood, having recently starred in the romantic comedy 'Just Wright,' alongside Queen Latifah, and 'Date Night,' starring Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Mark Wahlberg. But the rapper-turned-actor's ready to hit the small screen. The Chicago native recently became the first actor to sign on to AMC's 'Hell on Wheels,' a drama series written by Joe and Tony Gayton, which is set in the 1860s during the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

"Common brings a layered intensity to a very complex role,' Joel Stillerman, AMC's VP of programming, told Deadline. "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."

Common will play Elam, a freed slave who ventures to the west to seek work and establish a life for himself. The half-black, half-white character will deal with the trials and tribulations that come with his skin color, as he does not identify with one race over the other.

The 38-year-old artist made his small screen debut on 'Girlfriends' back in 2003, gracing the silver screen in his first feature, 'Smokin' Aces,' in 2006. Since then, he has appeared in 'Street Kings,' 'Wanted,' 'Terminator Salvation' and 'American Gangster.'

He hasn't completely left his rap career alone, though, releasing his eighth studio album 'Universal Mind Control' in 2008. The Chi-town emcee is currently recording his next album 'The Believer,' which he previously announced would feature production exclusively from No I.D. and Kanye West. The album is slated for release later this year.