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Interview - Chatting w/ The Cast Of 'Black Nativity' On Adapting Langston Hughes' Celebrated Play

Shadow and Act By Masha Dowell | Shadow and Act November 26, 2013 at 2:53PM

Interview - Chatting w/ The Cast Of 'Black Nativity' On Adapting Langston Hughes' Celebrated Play
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Black Nativity - Tyrese

In this adaptation, singer and actor Tyrese Gibson plays the absentee father of Langston (played by Jacob Latimore). The role may sound stereotypical or commonplace; but the reason for his character's absence is interesting.

Tyrese admits to stepping his game up because of the quality of actors that paved the way for his generation of actors. His love and respect for Denzel Washington is unreal. His admiration for Forest Whitaker is amazing.

In many ways his admiration reminds me that Hollywood is a community; and although rarely talked about; it’s a community of artists that are simply expressing, or creating something higher than themselves.

In this film, you play an absentee father; one that was actually forced to leave his son and his mother. How did you prepare for the role?

TYRESE GIBSON: I focused on the circumstances that forced him to leave. I had a lot of people uncomfortable on the set, because I was not my normal self. I’m not a method actor; I’m not even trained. I just jump into the scenes. I was so dark the entire movie. I just took it very seriously. I was like Forest Whitaker is going to see this scene. 

On actually being a part of the film, with such a strong veteran starring cast in Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett especially?

TYRESE GIBSON: I’m humbled; even being here today. It’s a very emotional day for me because I’m walking inside of answered prayers.  The reason I started acting was because of Denzel. I was not interested in acting before I saw the Hurricane. I hope that he reads this. I don’t feel that I have made it as an actor until I have worked with Denzel. 

The folks that I worked with in the past, are not who they are today. Mark Wahlberg was not the Mark Wahlberg of today. Sofia Vergara was not who she is today. Taraji Henson; no one ever heard of her before Baby Boy. So working with Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, and Angela Bassett, who are current; well respected actors it’s the greatest stage that I have ever been on. To co-exist with powerful and intense actors in this space; is what I have prayed for.

On how he originated the role, and having to sing in it.

TYRESE GIBSON: Kasi called me while I was doing Fast 6; she told me that she wrote this role just for me. And when I got the script my characters name was actually Tyrese.  I was like Kasi, I love you to death; but Tyrese isn’t playing Tyrese.

TYRESE GIBSON: No. That was the most challenging part about this film. I’ve purposely stayed away from singing in films.

Below is a behind-the-scenes featurette for Fox Searchlight's Black Nativity, which is set for a November 27, 2013 release.

The story centers on a young black teen from Baltimore, who is sent to Harlem by his mother to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged grandparents. The boy then learns the real meaning of faith and family when his grandfather delivers a Christmas Eve sermon. The film includes a stylized, dream-sequence retelling of the classic Nativity story.

The film stars Jacob Latimore, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, and Jennifer Hudson, in a work that's based on Langston Hughes' Broadway gospel musical.

Mary J. Blige, Tyrese Gibson, Luke James, and Nas round out the cast. 

Raphael Saadiq wrote music for it.

It opens tomorrow, just in time for Thanksgiving.

Go behind the scenes with the film's key cast and crew in the video below, and watch the trailer after it:


Here's the film's latest trailer:


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