It was adapted for the stage by Wright and Paul Green, with some conflict between the authors affecting the project. The initial production, directed by Orson Welles and with Canada Lee as Bigger opened at the St. James Theatre on March 24, 1941.
The book was newly adapted and directed again by Kent Gash (in conjunction with the Paul Green Foundation) for Intiman Theatre in Seattle, Washington, in 2006. The production, featuring Ato Essandoh as Bigger Thomas, was a more literal translation of the book than the 1941 version and was a critical success.
In 2014, a stage adaptation by Nambi Kelly played the Court Theatre in Chicago.
Native Son has been filmed twice; once in 1951 and again in 1986. The first version was made in Argentina. Wright, aged 42, played the protagonist despite being twice the age of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas. The film was not well received, with Wright's performance being a particular target of critics.