Common Lands Role As Freed Slave in 'Hell On Wheels'

Chicago rap star/actor Common will add another credit to his resume when he stars in his first TV lead role for AMC as a freed slave in series Hell on Wheels.

According to reports, the rapper will play the role of “Elam,” a freed slave who is heading west to seek work building the Transcontinental Railroad.

The rapper will play a black/white man attempting to find his place in the world as the fabled railroad system is built.

"Common brings a layered intensity to a very complex role," said Joel Stillerman, senior vice president of AMC's programming, production and digital content. "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. We are thrilled to have him join our cast."

The actual Transcontinental Railroad was built between 1863-1869 and was the second highest priority for Abraham Lincoln’s administration, behind the question of slavery in the South.

The railway, which was the first in the world to stretch coast-to-coast, was built by a mixture of a variety of ethnicities, including Africa-Americans, Irish-Americans, Chinese Americans, Italian-Americans and Native Americans.

While Hell on Wheels is Common’s first television role, the rapper has had several high profile appearances on the silver screen.

Common's acting credits include roles in movies like Just Wright, Date Night, Smokin’ Aces, American Gangster and Terminator: Salvation.