Last Updated on December 20, 2023
It’s interesting how a person’s work can sometimes give you an inaccurate view of what the person is like in real life. I’ve always been a big Jeffrey Wright fan. After all, he was Felix Leiter (and Commissioner Gordon), and I’m a massive James Bond fan. Yet, I always assumed he was a serious guy, but both times I’ve interviewed him (the last time was for No Time to Die), I’ve been taken aback by how relaxed and super friendly he is. He’s the opposite of the stereotypical method-type actor, with him a very laid-back, down-to-earth guy who’s obviously really proud of the work he’s doing and very excited to talk about it with people who appreciate it.
And indeed, I really liked his latest film, American Fiction, which has garnered him a whole slew of Best Actor nominations. Many think he’s a shoo-in to win a Best Actor Oscar. During our chat, where he was joined by the equally nice and easygoing Sterling K. Brown, he talked about how writer-director Cord Jefferson’s screenplay took him by surprise at how funny and non-heavy-handed it depicted race and identity. The most interesting part of the interview is when Wright and Brown mention that, thanks to the strikes, they couldn’t attend the movie’s premiere at TIFF. Still, after it premiered, they suddenly realized something huge was happening with reviews and that the movie was catching on in a big way.
I also got a chance to speak to Erika Alexander, who co-stars in the film as Wright’s love interest. The movie revolves around a black professor, played by Wright, getting frustrated with the fact that his books are automatically regarded as “black” despite not being entered around race. In frustration, he writes a stereotypical “hood” novel under a pseudonym, and it becomes a runaway smash, leading to a whole lot of self-loathing. In our interviews, Alexander and I discussed the fact that, beyond race, the message of the movie is pretty universal as it revolves, most of all, not in how people view you but really how you view yourself, something I think a lot of of struggle with.
Check back for my American Fiction review shortly. It’s now open in limited release but goes nationwide on December 22nd.