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Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, & Bryan Tyree Henry Interview: Widows

Action star Michelle Rodriguez is best known for her popular character of Letty Ortiz in the Fast & Furious film franchise.  Cynthia Erivo is an actress and singer who has appeared on both Broadway and the West End. She starred opposite Jeff Bridges in Bad Times at the El Royale. Brian Tyree Henry is a regular on the critically acclaimed FX series Atlanta. He was also nominated for multiple awards for his guest appearance on the drama series This is Us. All three of them star in Widows, a heist film co-written and directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1983 ITV series of the same name.

Screen Rant: Guys, brilliant job on this film.

Brian Tyree Henry: Thank you.

Screen Rant: It was amazing. Such a ride. Besides working with Steve McQueen, what attracted you guys to the project?

Cynthia Erivo: The script. I guess the script. It’s brilliant and it tackles so many things that you just don't get to see on screen or represented in any way whatsoever. So, he had given these wonderful characters these amazing lives and these stories that we just don't get to explore ever. And I was in love with it. And then you have Steve and Viola.

Michelle Rodriguez: I'd have to admit that without Steve, I wouldn't have been-- Because there is always a script, but the execution of it. And coming from a commercial film world where you don't really care so much about the quality of the stuff. The only way I would do a feature that has so much depth-- Because you read the script is has like everything. Everything is packed with meaning.  And so, you would need a really good captain for that ship. So, he's the one who really got me-- Because also, I'm exploring soft power and to me it's like an alien. It's like, “What? The feminine side, what is that good for? I don't understand. I've always survived with this other side and I don't know what beauty do you see in this?” I feel sorry for this poor thing, that has to endure being kicked around with a heart like bare.

Brian Tyree Henry: Right.

Screen Rant: The characters are so rich in this film, from top to bottom, and it's filled with amazing actors like yourselves. But I have to ask you, mainly about Jamal. Mainly the juxtaposition between him and Jack [played by Colin Farrell]. Because they're very similar. Obviously, Jamal is more of a product of his environment being from the 18th ward and they haven't had representation that looks like that surrounding area. So, can you talk to me about the differences between Jack and Jamal?

Brian Tyree Henry: Well, the thing is that the differences are all surface. Like you instantly see that I'm black and I'm from the 18th ward and from the projects and he's white and a descendant of these politics who have always been the haves.  And that's it. Because at the end of the day, our goals are the same. We literally lost the same thing in the-- we’re widows in this movie too. We lost something as well. It's just the difference of the accessibility to power.  There's something to be said, and I think about it in politics all the time, we may be for the same goals, but the way we appear is what you guys actually put the differences in. Because Jamal, to me it's no different than Jack, it's just about his resources.  I literally think that Jamal is moving from a place of, “Like, yeah, I'm really glad that he's able to live in this side of Chicago and have these gates around his house and have this kind of caviar and ride around in this car, but I'm born and raised here, and I don't have that. I'm still trying to on the political map just like he is, but I'm not breaking soil. I'm not the one getting that stuff.

Michelle Rodriguez: Fraternity.

Brian Tyree Henry: It's literally, that whole fraternal thing. It's all good.  But at the end of the day, the thing that is on the surface is what keeps us apart. Because I’m black and he's white. That's literally, it's as plain as they go. We have the same initials. Our names are technically the same.  It's literally as black and white as that. And I think that that is what gets underneath Jamal’s skin. Because he's like, “I actually was raised here and actually want the best, but we both are widows in this too. We lost something as well. Who's going to go get it first? Who's on the inside? Who has the knowledge?” And I think that that's what I love the most about the Manning brothers, period. Because there is that kind of fraternal thing between us, because we're all we have, and we're going to go get what we need.

Screen Rant: Well, this is such a great story and I can't wait for everyone-- I wanted to take my sister last night. She lives out here.  But guys, thank you so much. It was a great film.

More: Viola Davis & Liam Neeson Interview for Widows

Key Release Dates
  • Widows (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018
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