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Daveed Diggs & Rafael Casal Interview: Blindspotting

Daveed Diggs is in high demand right now.  The American actor, rapper, and singer won a Tony Award and Grammy Award for originating the duo-role of the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the hit musical Hamilton. He then had a recurring part on the popular sitcom Black-ish and a role in the critically acclaimed movie Wonder.

Now Daveed and his up-and-coming co-star Rafael Casal are in the feature film Blindspotting.  The movie follows Collin (Diggs) and his friend Miles (Casal) during the last few days of Collin’s one-year probation.  Collin is struggling to get his life together while Miles wants to embrace a more dangerous lifestyle. Blindspotting releases nationwide July 20, 2018.

SR: Guys, this project was brilliant. It was very eye opening. Very good. Very good film. Where did the idea spawn from?

Daveed: We wanted to make a story of about… The initial prompt was, it's about Oakland, it features verse, and it stars us. (LAUGHS)

SR: That works. Before the project, before Hamilton, before TV commercials, there was a Freestyle Love Supreme. How did that platform prepare you guys for this?

Daveed: This predates Freestyle Love Supreme. By a long shot.

Rafael: And I wasn't in none of that s***. (LAUGHS)

Daveed: Yeah, I hadn't met Lin (Manuel Miranda) or any of those guys when we started working on this. So, I don't know. All of those things kind of interrupted this movie in some ways. But for us at least, my ability to stay and be focused and think about it. Not that we were doing that anyway.  We wrote this over a decade. So, you know.

Rafael: We were working on this.

Daveed: At the same time as we were making several rap albums or working on plays.  I mean Rafael and I have been working together for 14 years.

SR:  How does it feel, after a decade of working on this, finally sing it, come to fruition here at Lionsgate, and in such a grand way.

Rafael: I mean, so far it's great. It's going to be a trip when it's in theaters and people can see it. I think that's what we're really excited about. We just want people to see them, see the movie, you know? So, it's really great. Like right now we're doing a lot of these. Like the private screenings and festivals and press. And that's all fantastic because people are giving us such amazing feedback. But we've had a few screenings where, really felt like people in Atlanta. And people in Detroit.  Those are the moments where you're like, oh here it is. This is who we made the movie for. Communities that it's about.

Daveed: We didn't know any press when we started making this.  I hadn't met any of you yet.

Rafael: This wasn’t a thing.  Screen Rant being here, wasn't a thing.

SR: Well, one thing that it's so interesting to me, because this has a lot of hot topic issues in it for sure. Especially right now in our political climate in the United States. What do you think Blindspotting is going to add to that conversation?

Rafael: Who knows? Because that social climate is constantly in flux. It has changed since we've started to show it. The conversation in the country has changed. We talked about a lot, that the gun debate in this country has changed a lot. And there are guns in this movie. And the way in which they're handled and treated has changed the way that people are asking questions about the film. So that's super fascinating.

Daveed: Which is a thing we never talked about while making the movie.

Rafael: Yeah.

Daveed: It never came up. The gun debate didn't factor into how we wrote the movie.

SR: Really?

Rafael: No, no, not at all. But I think what I love about all art is, if it is an interesting enough, compelling enough, mirror of society in some way. And something to point at it. Something to give language to a conversation that people may not have for themselves. Right? That's what's great about music and poetry and theater. You go, I feel like that character in that thing. Right? Or that scene is how I felt in this moment. And I think if we can provide any language, or any context, for people in search of their context, then art it functioning as it should.

MORE: How Being A Real Teacher Helped Daveed Diggs With His Wonder Role

Blindspotting opens in theaters July 20, 2018.

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