Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
A New Edition Biopic Might Be Coming to a Theater Near You If This Fan-Made Trailer Goes Viral A New Edition Biopic Might Be Coming to a Theater Near You If This Fan-Made Trailer Goes Viral HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship Films & TV Series That Are Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library Next Month (March) Films & TV Series That Are Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library Next Month (March) Check Out These Photos of Mo'Nique, Queen Latifah, Khandi Alexander & Michael K. WIlliams From HBO's Bessie Smith Bio + Premiere Date Set Check Out These Photos of Mo'Nique, Queen Latifah, Khandi Alexander & Michael K. WIlliams From HBO's Bessie Smith Bio + Premiere Date Set Oscars Telecast Ratings at 6-Year Low. So Was Nielsen Right About Correlation Between Black Nominees & Viewers? Oscars Telecast Ratings at 6-Year Low. So Was Nielsen Right About Correlation Between Black Nominees & Viewers? Here's the Story That the Denzel Washington/Antoine Fuqua 'Magnificent Seven' Remake Will Tell Here's the Story That the Denzel Washington/Antoine Fuqua 'Magnificent Seven' Remake Will Tell Ava DuVernay Won Ava DuVernay Won Watch Footage From Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape Watch Footage From Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape Mike Tyson Went to Algeria to Make the Country's "First Martial Arts Film"... Here's a First Look at the Results Mike Tyson Went to Algeria to Make the Country's "First Martial Arts Film"... Here's a First Look at the Results If You Missed PBS' August Wilson Documentary, 'The Ground on Which I Stand,' Watch It in Full Now! If You Missed PBS' August Wilson Documentary, 'The Ground on Which I Stand,' Watch It in Full Now! Now in Demand: Black Actors - Morris Chestnut Books Starring Role in Investigative Drama Pilot for Fox Now in Demand: Black Actors - Morris Chestnut Books Starring Role in Investigative Drama Pilot for Fox Here's One Reason Why Eddie Murphy's 'SNL' Appearance Was So Awkwardly Brief... Here's One Reason Why Eddie Murphy's 'SNL' Appearance Was So Awkwardly Brief... Now You Can Watch All 10 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Live Action & Animation) Online Now You Can Watch All 10 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Live Action & Animation) Online Jill Marie Jones Scores Female Lead Role in Starz Original Series Based on 'Evil Dead' Film Franchise Jill Marie Jones Scores Female Lead Role in Starz Original Series Based on 'Evil Dead' Film Franchise Mo'Nique's Decision to Not "Play the Industry Game" Gets Her Blacklisted. The Actress Speaks... Mo'Nique's Decision to Not "Play the Industry Game" Gets Her Blacklisted. The Actress Speaks... For the First Time, the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards Will Be Broadcast on TV - on OWN For the First Time, the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards Will Be Broadcast on TV - on OWN Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Apparently, Hosting The Oscars Isn't As Coveted A Gig As I Previously Assumed... Apparently, Hosting The Oscars Isn't As Coveted A Gig As I Previously Assumed... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Exclusive: Wendell Pierce Discusses His Controversial Role in 'Four' (LAFF Premiere Today)

Shadow and Act By Jasmin Tiggett | Shadow and Act June 15, 2012 at 11:32AM

Wendell Pierce, who stars as a married man hooking up with a white teenage boy in the film, spoke with me this week about his about his role, the potential criticism from it, and a few of his upcoming projects.
17
Wendell Pierce in Four

Premiering today at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Four is an intense drama that follows two couples meeting up in a suburban town on the Fourth of July. Find my review of the film HERE.

Wendell Pierce, who stars as a married man hooking up with a white teenage boy in the film, spoke with me this week about his about his role, the potential criticism from it, and a few of his upcoming projects.

S&A: How did you get involved in this project, and what made you choose the role?

WP: When I got the call from the producers and the director, I actually knew about the piece already because I'd seen the play. It's a character-driven piece and I really liked the way it pulled you into the characters to try to figure out what their journey is - sort of peeling away the layers of an onion, not only the people themselves but also the plot. And then the challenge that it presented me as an actor. Drama is always about conflict and the personal conflict within [Joe] is something that I thought would be a challenge for me. I thought I was the last person you would think to play this role, at least this is something that I've never been asked to do.

S&A: You play a complex character whose actions are pretty objectionable. What do you make of the larger themes that can be drawn from him, particularly with sexuality and race, and how people might respond to them?

WP: For me, the conclusions people will draw from this film will be influenced by the dearth of diversity in portrayals that we have. I expect people to say, “Why did Wendell participate in the emasculating of a black man?” The real question is, Why do you feel as though that's emasculating? A man can’t have a conflict? When you try to do art, it's how it lands on people, and hopefully some people will see it the way that I saw it, which is all of these awful choices come from the place of a man who’s damaged. We always see abhorrent behavior and say why, but then we get mad when somebody tries to answer. Just to answer the question why does not say I'm validating behavior. I'm just saying, if we’re going to be a student of human behavior, be a true student.

And I understand that we should never lose our right to be offended, so I accept it.  But for me it was always a study of human behavior because if we just demonize it, it becomes unreal. “He's just evil. He’s evil incarnate.” No, actually he's human, and human beings actually think this way, behave this way, and do these things. And for you not to accept that - you’re in a state of denial, and then you make people susceptible to the choices that people like this make.

S&A: So it’s fair to say that you expect a lot of criticism?

WP: I expect some people have a reaction to the character. And people have the right to do that. The opposite of liking something isn't hating it. The opposite is actually indifference. That would be worse to me, to say, “How did you feel about this man and the fact that he's a black man being portrayed this way?” If they said, “I don't care,” that would upset me more. I want people to be impassioned, whether they like it or they don't like it. That is impactful.

Someone said, “Are you worried that people are going to be upset with you?” And I said, “People should be a little upset, a little uncomfortable, in this movie.” You shouldn't be comfortable with all the choices that these people make. Because you have to live an authentic life. That’s the lesson we learn from Four. Be your true self. Because if you're not, there are consequences to be paid.  

S&A: The film doesn’t seem to pass judgment on its characters, to the point that its viewpoint isn’t always clear. What did you make of its perspective and what we should receive from it?

WP: I think the film has a viewpoint - that your actions are not in a vacuum. They impact other people. It may be in a way that’s less obvious than in mainstream movies, but it comes to an understanding of who those people are. It also leaves it open to interpretation. And that's what art is, a form in which people can reflect on who we are as human beings and come to some understanding of this journey we are on. So it's kind of serving the purpose of what art should be, what a film should be, which is a forum in which we reflect on the behavior of mankind – character, choices, situation, and the impact of an event.

S&A: What can you share about your upcoming projects following Four?

WP: I'm about to go shoot a film in Belgium and Luxembourg called Modius, with Jean Dujardin, who just won the Oscar. It's a French independent film but I'm actually an American in it. And I'm excited about winning [the Tony for] Clybourne Park. I’ve already started discussions with Ron Simons, who is an African-American producer who won for Porgy and Bess, and Tamara Tunie who won a couple years ago for Spring Awakening and we were partnered on Radio Golf. We just started talking about, what if three African American producers – Tony award winners on Broadway - came together and did a piece. So we’re in discussions about trying to find a piece to produce together.

***

Four screens at LA Film Festival today, Friday, June 15 and Monday, June 18. Find tickets HERE.

This article is related to: Exclusive, Interview, Wendell Pierce


Shadow & ActNewsletter