Wednesday, November 30, 2016


EMMY-winning Actress VIOLA DAVIS and OSCAR-winning Actor DENZEL WASHINGTON sit down to be interviewed by BASKETBALL Hall Of Famer KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR to discuss their forthcoming film, FENCES, that is directed by Denzel, and; based on the BROADWAY play by late Playwright AUGUST WILSON!!!

Here are some interview interludes:
August Wilson once said that his plays offer white Americans a different way to look at black Americans, and he hoped that they would change how they think and deal with black Americans. What insights into black people and black life do you think white Americans will get from the film?
WASHINGTON It could be that it's not that different. Circumstances, no matter what the color is, could be similar. Troy's whole [resentment of his lack of success as a baseball player] … was it his color or was he just too old? I think he was just too old regardless of his color. Or, as his friends said, "He just come along too early."
DAVIS I think sometimes what people miss about black people is that we're complicated, that we are indeed messy, that we do our best with what we've been given. We come into the world exactly like you. It's just that there are circumstances in the culture that are dictated and put on our lives that we have to fight against.
Wilson also said that all art is political. The play premiered in 1985. Why do you think the story still is relevant after 30 years, especially after the recent presidential election that we've been through? 
WASHINGTON The circumstances, again, are universal. It could happen to anyone. I don't know if it's more political now given the election or whatever, but it's a long way from Troy to now because now we're post-Obama even.
DAVIS I don't know why I don't see the play as political. I don't see it as representing something any bigger than a family and a man being born into a set of circumstances and maybe not taking ownership of how he's poisoning his family, which most of us don't. Some of us go to our grave never taking ownership. We just cause destruction around us. Arthur Miller said it, and August Wilson said it: When you notice all of the sins of your father, hopefully you can approach it with forgiveness and illumination. That's just life.

Troy talks a lot about what it means to be a man, particularly a black man, but his ideas often are delusional. What do you think the film says about being a black man?
WASHINGTON Well, I love the things he says to his son about responsibility and taking care of his family. "Mr. Rand don't give me my money because he like me. He give it to me because he owe me." In my own life, I had a male teacher who was trying to teach me things that I didn't believe — how you should treat women and things like that — but I knew better. But Cory doesn't know better.
DAVIS They're all trying to find this reason to matter, a place in the world. When I look at Fences, with Cory needing a connection with his father, Troy, his disconnect from his father to me is even more relevant in his life than not making it to the football league. That is a theme in all of Wilson's plays, the need to matter.
Rose is filled with vitality, intelligence and a surprising amount of optimism, yet she seems to be whatever the men in her life need from her. What drives her? 
DAVIS She says it in the end: "That's what life offered me in the way of being a woman, and I took it." You're only as good as your options.
And she deals with Troy's girl compassionately. That was love raising that child.
DAVIS That is a huge need for a lot of women, even in 2016. You can have the most ambitious career woman, and at the end of the day, she's like, "I just want to be a mom." And, by the way, sitting with other mommies is probably the most frightening experience in the entire world. They're serious into mommy-shaming.
Final question: What do you hope the audience comes away with after they watch Fences?
WASHINGTON I always say it depends upon what they bring to it.
DAVIS People don't understand that when you come into any theatrical experience, you've got to come locked and loaded, that you're a part of the experience, too. You can't come with your arms crossed. Be open to it.
WASHINGTON When we did the play, sometimes we had to wrestle the play back from the audience because they'd take it and run. I came out there with that baby one night, and one woman said, "Oh, Denzel!" Not, "Oh, Troy!"

Davis and Washington filmed <em>Fences</em> on location in Pittsburgh this past summer.

The 2010 Broadway cast.

From left: Davis, Abdul-Jabbar and Washington were photographed Nov. 13 at Quixote Studios in L.A.

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