Common Set to Play Role in New TV Drama

Common has been dabbling in feature acting for a few years now, since he appeared in 2007’s Smokin’ Aces, but he may have just landed his biggest role yet.

The Chicago-bred MC has been cast in the AMC network’s forthcoming drama series Hell on Wheels. The show will center on the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, and Com is set to play Elam, a half black, half white, freed slave hoping to find work. According to, he is the first person to be cast in the Western.

“Common brings a layered intensity to a very complex role,” said Joel Stillerman, the network’s VP of programming. “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.”

Com most recently appeared in Just Wright, co-starring Queen Latifah. —Adam Fleischer

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  • Sha

    Hmmmmmmm. Street Rapper transforms to Eclectic Rapper (Via Erica Badu), transforms conscious rapper, transforms to really weird rapper (via Neptunes), transforms to big-screen actor, transforms to paid rapper (via Forbes), transforms to runaway slave actor……

    The definition of changing with the times…..

    But what is he changing into? A sell-out (via Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle)? Or will his album bring him back to his roots?

    I am interested as hell to find out.

    • $yk

      Sha is wildin’ right now.

      Common’s playing a mulatto slave trying to find work in a segregated, bigoted world. This portrayal speaks more volumes than any album can do.

      What do y’all want him to do? Release another album that won’t sell more than 100k, so all can say he’s washed up and no one wants to hear “that conscious sh^t”?

      He’s re-invented himself to being an actor, who’s being taken seriously enough to be cast 1st in a TV series. Would y’all love him more if he had a role on ‘House Of Payne’?

      And this is a good issue to show these lil’ Keebler elves out here who barely use their axioms in the first place.

  • yoprince

    although i’ve never seen evidence that common is a good actor, AMC makes great television. good look here.

  • jtm

    he should stick to rapping.

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  • joey

    ah…. lame.
    this just means less music.

  • chiefninja

    Sha – I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say “street rapper” turned “conscious rapper” when his first big song was I Used to Love Her? If that’s not conscious, I don’t know what is. And it’s not like he’s ditched rapping for acting. Playing a freed slave is no worse than playing a thugged out police officer. Are you going to bitch about Denzel winning an Oscar for Training Day?

  • Sha


    I don’t think you or I have enough information to determine if this new acting gig he has is uplifting. There are many movies and T.V. shows that have uplifting “theories” but turn out to be straight booty when placed on the market. I don’t think it’s fair for me to “Prejudge” him on this. But I don’t think it’s fair for others to “Prejudge” and think that the story is some uplifting “we are the world” type stuff. That is the main reason I am curious to find out where he is going with this….

    • $yk

      Just as I am curious to see what this show is about. Some shows are horrible, but you still watch it for the storyline, which this one sounds way more uplifting and intriguing than sh^t like ‘Entourage’ & ‘Lost’.

      It seems like you have a pre-determined thought about Common though.

      I’m looking at it like AMC has 2 damn good shows in ‘Breaking Bad’ & ‘Made Men’. This new one is about some real Black American History, and we have one of the homies in it.

  • Sha


    I’m not saying that growth and transformation isn’t good. But know your history. Common was on some serious street shit before. Remember the album “Can I Borrow A Dollar”? He was basically talking about getting drunk every day.

    No… Common was not always a “Conscious” MC….

    Sorry dude. But I respect your perspective.

    And another thing….. Money has affected Common. It affects everyone that attains it. You can say what you want but Common has made some questionable moves since he got cake. He has. It’s not to say that any other person would stay grounded. But he did change. I can’t say if it’s for better or for worse. Time will tell. That is the reason I am reserving judgment until the final decision is in.

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  • Sha Emperess ( Sheria)

    GO MR. LYNN!