OSCAR BUZZ ON “BEALE STREET”

February 20, 2019 at 5:15 am

James Baldwin’s novel, “If Beale Street Could Talk” has been nominated for three Academy Awards. One of the film’s stars takes us behind the scenes of this literary classic.

Aired on February 19, 2019. 

Transcript Print

> EVERY BLACK PERSON BORN IN
AMERICA WAS BORN ON BEALE
STREET.
THAT IS A QUOTATION FROM JAMES
BALDWIN'S 1974 NOVEL IF BIEL
STREET COULD TALK AND IT'S THE
OPENING OF A NEW FILM
ADAPTATION.
THE STORY IS ONE OF LOVE AND
INJUSTICE IN 1970s NEW YORK IN
HARLEM AND GREENWICH VILLAGE AND
CAPTURES NEW YORK CITY OF
YESTERYEAR WEAVING THEMES OF
OPPRESSION AND IMPRISONMENT WITH
LOVE, LOSS AND TRANSCENDENCE.
THE FILM HAS BEEN NOMINATED FOR
THREE ACADEMY AWARDS FOR BEST
ADAPTED SCREEN PLAY, BEST SCORE
AND BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS FOR
REGINA KING AS THE MATRIARCH
TASKED WITH HOLDING IT ALL
TOGETHER.
§
>> I'M YOURS AND YOU'RE MINE AND
THAT'S IT.
YOU'RE WITH ME ALL THE TIME.
>> HONEY, THERE'S SOMETHING I'VE
GOT TO TELL YOU.
>> WE ARE DRINKING TO NEW LIFE.
TISH IS GOING TO HAVE THIS BABY.
>> I HOPE IT'S A BOY.
COME ON OVER HERE, DAUGHTER.
YOU'RE A GOOD GIRL AND I'M PROUD
OF YOU.
DON'T YOU EVER FORGET IT.
>> WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE
JOINING US NOW THE MAN YOU JUST
SAW IN THAT CLIP, COLEMAN
DOMINGO.
YOU MAY ALSO KNOW HIM FROM THE
ROLES IN "MOONLIGHT," "FEAR OF
THE WALKING DEAD" AND WE'RE
DELIGHTED TO HAVE HIM WITH US.
THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.
>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
IT'S GOOD TO BE HERE.
>> YOU HAD TALKED ABOUT THE FACT
THAT YOU HAD READ THIS MANY,
MANY YEARS AGO?
THE BALDWIN BOOK.
>> YES, I HAD.
>> I'M CURIOUS AS TO WHAT YOUR
FIRST THOUGHT WAS WHEN YOU WERE
APPROACHED ABOUT THE IDEA OF
MAYBE BEING PART OF THIS FILM?
>> I THOUGHT, WELL, GEE, IT WAS
ABOUT TIME BECAUSE I THOUGHT
JAMES BALDWIN'S WORK, HIS
LITERARY WORK, IS SO FILLED WITH
LOVE AND GRACE AND RAGE AND
INTELLIGENCE AND WIT AND IT'S A
CRITICAL EYE TOWARD AMERICA AND
OUR HUMANITY AND ALL OF THE
THINGS THAT WE WERE WRESTLING
WITH AS A COUNTRY, AND SO I
THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT TIME THAT
HIS WORK IS ADAPTED INTO FILM.
I'VE ALSO SEEN YOU TALK ABOUT
YOUR ROLE AND YOUR CHARACTER
JOSEPH HERE AND HOW HE IS A
DIFFERENT DEPICTION, IF YOU WILL
OF AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN MAN THAN
WE HAD SEEN IN MANY OF THE MORE
RECENT FILMS.
HOW DID YOU MEAN THAT?
>> I THINK WE'RE USUALLY
SUFFERING AND BEING HARD AND
OVERTLY MASCULINE WITHOUT BEING
COMPASSIONATE, AND THE MOMENT
THAT TISH SAYS THAT SHE'S
PREGNANT EVERYONE NATURALLY
THINKS HE'S GOING TO FLY OFF THE
HANDLE AND THROW HER OUT OF THE
HOUSE AND BEAT HER OR SOMETHING
AND THOSE ARE THE IMAGES WE'VE
SEEN TIME AND TIME AGAIN.
IT SHOWS THIS VERY BLUE COLLAR
MAN WHO IS VERY MUCH IN A WAY, A
FEMINIST, AS WELL, AND THE FACT
THAT HE LOVES HIS DAUGHTER AND
SUPPORTS HIS DAUGHTERS AND HIS
WIFE TO MAKE CHOICES FOR
THEMSELVES AND HE FEELS SECURE
WITH HIS MASCULINITY IN THAT
WAY.
AND THAT'S A GREAT MESSAGE FOR
NOW, AND MEN ARE ADVOCATES OF
WOMEN IN YOUNG WOMEN'S VOICES
AND WE'RE NOT ALWAYS ON THE
OPPOSITE.
>> SO YOU DESCRIBE HIM AS
SAYING, HE'S NOT A SUPERHERO AND
HE'S THE KIND OF HERO IN THE
SENSE THAT HE'S AN ORDINARY MAN
NOW CONFRONTED WITH
EXTRAORDINARY CRISES.
>> I THINK THERE ARE SO MANY MEN
WHO WALK AROUND IN THIS WORLD
WHO ARE ACTUALLY SUPERHEROES,
WHO ARE ACTUALLY THE MOST
ORDINARY HUMAN BEINGS AND THEY
KNOW THAT THEIR FUNCTION IS TO
PROVIDE A SAFE SPACE FOR THEIR
FAMILY, THEIR WIVES, TO FLY, TO
THRIVE AND HE'S DEALING WITH THE
CIRCUMSTANCES THAT HE'S BEEN
GIVEN AND HE POSSIBLY HAD A
JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION AND
POSSIBLY HE'S DOING WHAT HE CAN
IN THE WORLD, AND HE'S GIVING
SUCH A GREAT FOUNDATION FOR HIS
KIDS TO FLY AND DO BETTER THAN
HIM.
I KNOW A LOT OF MEN LIKE THAT.
>> THE FILM IS -- TECHNICALLY
YOU WOULD CALL IT A PERIOD
PIECE.
IT WAS SET IN THE 1970s AND YET
IT'S SOMETHING I SAW YOU TALKING
ABOUT, AND IT'S NOT REALLY A
PERIOD PIECE.
>> IT'S JUST LIKE THE THEMES
THAT SHAKESPEARE HAS WRESTLED
WITH AND BEING THE BROTHERHOOD
OF JUSTICE AND POLITICS AND IT'S
TIME IMMEMORIAL AND THINGS THAT
WE'RE GRAPPLING WITH AND IT IS
ROMEO AND JULIETTE AND WE DO
TELL THE SAME STORIES AGAIN AND
AGAIN, AND WE'RE EXAMINING
OURSELVES AGAIN AND AGAIN,
WRESTLING WITH WHO ARE WE?
THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION RID NOW
BECAUSE WE THINK WE KNOW WHO WE
ARE, BUT WE DON'T.
>> IT'S A MARVELOUS FILM AND YOU
ARE SO GREAT IN IT AND SO
POWERFUL AND COLEMAN DOMINGO AT
THE APOLLO THEATER IN HARLEM AND
MAKE SURE YOU VISIT US AT
METROFOCUS.ORG.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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