Common scores a lead role in AMC’s pilot for “Hell on Wheels”

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Rapper-turned-actor Common, best known for his roles in romantic comedies like Just Wright and Date Night and action films like Wanted and Terminator: Salvation, has landed a lead role in the pilot for AMC’s newest potential series, Hell on Wheels, which will follow the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Common will play Elam, a freed slave who is half black and half white, who moves west to find work on the railroad. At the moment, the show seems like a departure for the rapper/actor, who’s mostly stuck to light-weight roles that involve shooting lots of guns. (His character in Wanted was simply called "The Gunsmith", for instance.) So… can he do it?

Honestly, I have no idea. I never saw Just Wright, another project in which he had a lead role, but I’m not sure if it matters given its 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes — even good actors can be brought down by bad material. And there’s not much word on Hell on Wheels itself, though I don’t see it becoming a heart-warming comedy. At this point, this is all just a big ol’ heap of conjecture. With that being said, here’s the best I can do for you as far as Common’s acting skills: the trailer for Just Wright.

But I will say this: AMC is two for two so far, and neither Breaking Bad nor Mad Men sounded like sure-fire successes on paper, I’m sure. If, come fall, the network can also pull off their zombie-drama The Walking Dead, then they can cast Jaden Smith for all I care. I’ll trust the decision.

Via Deadline.