There’s a strange thing that happens when watching a film in 3D. I wonder if the film would be as exciting if characters weren't running toward me, and villains weren't popping out of the screen, but perhaps that’s the point. That was the feeling I had during Underworld: Awakening, the fourth installment in the popular sci-fi film franchise, starring Kate Beckinsale and directed by Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein.
Michael Ealy plays detective Sebastian, and according to him he's the "human" component to a world where vampires, Lycans, and humans wage war against each other. In one of the more memorable scenes, Sebastion confides in Selene, played by Beckinsale, that his wife was bitten by a vampire and perished one day when she was "found out" and exposed to light. There's an interesting mix of pathos and otherworldly mysticism in this scene that I didn't notice in the rest of the film, but there are plenty of Lycan-vampire duels, and for those who've followed this franchise, that may be fine.
I caught up with Ealy for a brief interview during the film’s press junket where he spoke about his character preparations for the film and the state of black cinema.
So, you’ve had several roles in dramatic films. Were your preparations as an actor different for this film than they would be for those other roles?
Michael Ealy: I really did not change anything for this role just because it was sci-fi. I think my character kind of represents the human component and so, I just applied whatever it that I’ve learned in the drama world and just brought it into sci-fi. There were minor adjustments in terms of technical things and 3D cameras that I had to deal with but other than that, at the end of the day, the character is still human.
What do you think about the current state of black cinema? Is there a “black cinema” and what are your thoughts on it?
It’s not like it was in the 90’s when we clearly had a whole bunch of different films and things of that nature. Things are better than they have been and I think they are getting better over time. Are things completely and utterly equal? No and neither is life, and sometimes you have to look at the demographics and numbers and you can try to justify and rationalize things, but at the end of the day, I’m playing the detective. I’m playing a neurosurgeon. I’m not playing the butler anymore and some people might look at that as a small stride. I tend to look at it as a very big one, and you know, I think we’re just going to get better. I think things will get better over time and we’ll have more people in decision-making positions and that will continue to help things develop and grow into something that looks and feels more equal.
Any plans for writing and directing?
I would love to direct but I feel like directing is a whole separate craft and so I tend to respect it as a separate craft that I would need to study first. So, right now I’m still trying to do certain things as an actor and until I get bored of that or I feel completely fed by that then I’ll move into directing.
Underworld: Awakening opens in theaters nationwide January 20th.