Sony’s crime thriller Black and Blue, which premieres next month, has a stellar cast at the forefront. Oscar nominee Naomie Harris (Moonlight) plays a rookie police officer who finds herself hunted by criminals and cops alike after she records an unlawful killing on her bodycam. But while the film boasts names like Tyrese Gibson (Fast and Furious) and Frank Grillo (Captain America: Civil War) in its supporting cast, the actors themselves agree that director Deon Taylor is responsible for the quality.
At a recent press conference for Black and Blue, the cast members collectively sang Taylor’s praises and pointed out what a collaborative creator he is. “[He] really understands how to be the leader without imposing his will on anybody,” Grillo declared, admitting that he had not previously been familiar with the director’s filmography. Despite this, it soon became clear that Taylor’s energy radiated through the production and was reflected in the work ethic on set. “All these guys are awesome, and it's a testament to him and how he attracted everybody,” Grillo added. “I think it rolls down from the top.”
Naomie Harris was also unfamiliar with Deon Taylor’s work, but she quickly understood the kind of director she was working with when they “had one initial Skype meeting, and he answered the phone with a dragon head on.” The quirky nature of his introduction put her at ease, immediately foreshadowing how enjoyable the experience of acting in his film would be. “We just started laughing,” she remembered. “I was like, ‘I don’t know what this is gonna be like, but it's gonna be fun.’”
Beyond just creating an enjoyable atmosphere during filming, Taylor also expanded Harris’ horizons as an actress. “I've been challenged by Deon in ways that I've never been challenged before, because he's all about authenticity,” the star explained. “He likes to take things outside of the script, and make sure that it's as real as possible and as in the moment as possible.” The Black and Blue director would sometimes even change dialogue during filming for the sake of that authenticity, which kept Harris on her toes. “I'm someone who likes to prepare a lot and have everything under wraps before I get set… Changing things was quite challenging for me. He's really pushed me to do that, and it's worked amazingly.”
James Moses Black, who utters the trailer’s most infamous line of “You’re not black, you’re blue now,” underscored the importance of Taylor’s leadership skills on set. “He's a good leader, but he likes to collaborate with the actors.” He pointed to a synergy in minor script adjustments, much like Harris. “That type of collaboration, which is always cool. I like to work with people who are collaborators.”
When Black and Blue arrives in theaters on October 25, it’s certain to open up an intensive discussion on cops and their respective communities. Perhaps it will even generate more awards buzz for rising star Naomie Harris. But outside of its gripping story and talented cast, it’s also guaranteed to put Deon Taylor’s name on the map as a director to watch.