Stars Jennifer Hudson and Jeffrey Wright talk about how to bond with their characters as parents in the upcoming Netflix movie Monster.
Years after its premiere at Sundance in 2018, Monster finally hits Netflix on May 7. Based on the novel by Walter Dean Meyers, the film explores youth violence and racial justice through the eyes of a black teenager. Steve Harmon (Kelvin Harrison Jr., The Chicago 7 trial), is on trial for an accessory to murder because he was at a convenience store before a robbery went wrong.
But as testimony accumulates and acquaintances are used against her, the audience, along with her public defender Katherine (Jennifer Ehle, Pride and prejudice) – they are asked to wonder what really happened that fateful night. While putting together his own narrative into a script, his parents, played by Jennifer Hudson (Dream girls) and Jeffrey Wright (The Batman) – are their greatest champions.
Acclaimed Hudson and Wright actors spoke with Screen Rant about how they related to their characters as parents and how they became their own family on set.
You didn’t have much time to put together that family dynamic, and yet it was very evident that Steve came from a loving home despite having been through this horrible situation. Can each of you talk about how you related to Mrs. AND Mr. Harmon and how you felt about your son’s trial?
Jennifer Hudson: I guess the connection is just being a mother. I have a son. I am a black woman, and each and every time we see a black child with these scenarios, it touches us very closely. So it didn’t take long [stretching] to be able to portray it.
They were my family, even on set. So, I hope you perceive it that way.
Jeffrey Wright: Yes, I am also a father, a father here in New York City to a teenage boy and a teenage girl. And I think the story is very much a story about the family; a family that loves and a family that tries to protect each other as good families do.
But it’s also a story about when the door opens and that young man walks out. What goes on out there and what challenges do you find there, what temptations do you find there. And how you receive it, how you view it, and how that affects you emotionally and perhaps physically. My door opens every day and my children come out.
I read the script, obviously, for this movie. But I already knew the story, somehow, very well.
Like Jennifer said, it really felt like family. Speaking of Calvin as your son, you have to see him a few years ago become the actor he is now. What was it like helping you on your journey?
Jeffrey Wright: Kelvin is a wonderful actor. And I think what we’re trying to do is give everything we can to our performances, to others and, in particular, to him. Because that information and those vibrations allow the other actor to feed himself, and he just builds. We all build on each other, trying to create the dynamics and everything that the story requires.
Kelvin, he does his thing. Look, I’d whisper a thing or two here and there, and he might or might not listen. He’s his own boy. This was many years ago, of course, it has been five years since we made the movie. But I think that, at the end of the day, he delivers as good a performance as I’ve seen from a young actor in this movie. There have been some young actors who have come out and received a lot of accolades and nominations and all of these things, but I haven’t seen any performance that brings more to the screen than Kelvin brought with this performance.
More: Jeffrey Wright’s 10 Best Movies, According To Rotten Tomatoes
Monster It will be released on May 7 on Netflix.
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