Based on the true story of New York City gangster Bumpy Johnson, Godfather of Harlem follows the notorious criminal (played by Forest Whitaker) as he returns home in 1963, only to find Harlem all but conquered by the Italian mob (led by Vincent Gigante, played by Vincent D'Onofrio). Lucy Fry plays the Italian kingpin's 22-year-old daughter, while Rafi Gavron portrays an aspiring gangster who is introduced in the second episode of the series.
At a press junket for Godfather of Harlem, Screen Rant got the chance to sit down with Lucy Fry and Rafi Gavron and have a brief chat about the era and the legendary pop music that remains timeless to this day. Both actors give a lovely shout out The Shirelles, while Gavron praises the show's production team for truly making the shooting locations feel like 1963 New York City.
You two are among the younger cast members in the show. This era, of 1963 Harlem, it's more foreign than it would be to other cast members. I know you are actors and you build these characters, but could you talk a bit about playing in this world that really doesn't exist today?
Rafi Gavron: There was so much soul and so much revolution going on at that time, it was magic, and me and Lucy just spoke about this, just being... We almost felt like we were there. We did the best we could. New York City playing its role in terms of its architecture. And when we had streets lined up with the cars from the 60s, it was like walking into a different era. That's like, you know, respect to the production team there, because it really helped us feel like we were there. And I think, just speaking to people who were there at that time, some of the older actors who we were working with... And we had this crazy guy called Professor Smalls, who was no joke, who just schooled us on that behavior. He was one of Malcolm X's bodyguards. We learned a lot about that time, which was just incredible for us.
I talked to Forest about the music of the era. Did you have any of that playing while you were getting into character, anything to psych you up for these roles?
Lucy Fry: Yeah, I listened to a little bit of it! While we'd be getting ready and stuff, just have it on in the background to try to get into the tone of the era.
Rafi Gavron: I've had that playing since I was two, seriously.
Could you share, just very quickly, a couple of favorites of yours?
Lucy Fry: The Shirelles.
Rafi Gavron: The Shirelles... Jesus, Mary Wells has some absolute bangers from that time. I'd have to go back and look at that exact time period so I don't make a stupid mistake, because I feel so strongly about music.
Oh, "That one was actually 1964!"
Rafi Gavron: See? See? There you go! I mean, everything at that time was just mind-blowing, man. I mean, I wish they still made music like that, which is why I do not listen to the radio anymore. Can't do it.
Godfather of Harlem airs Sundays on EPIX.