Taraji P. Henson is hitting theaters soon with Proud Mary, one of her most important films yet; the above-the-title lead is also an executive producer.
Henson plays Mary, a professional hit-woman working for an organized crime family in Boston, who’s life is changed forever when she crosses paths with a young boy during a hit gone wrong.
Prior to the film’s January 12th release, we had the opportunity to visit the set and catch up with the cast. Check out our Q & A with the superstar herself, Taraji P Henson.
It was said early on that you were their first choice for this role. What made you want to go ahead and take on this film?
Henson: This is different from anything I’ve ever done before. I really love playing different characters so it felt different. The challenge for me, is how do you make a character that people could really hate, likable? She kills a lot of people, but for a good reason.
Did you enjoy the action side of it?
Henson: It’s like getting paid to play cop and robbers. It’s actually a dream come true; the closest thing to a Marvel Comic character to me.
The action stuff [was also the biggest challenge I faced]. I really hurt my arm and I’m thinking… When you see the action, it’s like, “Oh, that’s fine. I can do that.” It doesn’t look too dangerous, but with just one false move, you can hit the wrong bone at the wrong angle, tweaking it or breaking it.
Is it difficult to go from an assassin during filming back to your normal life?
Henson: I have played a lot of deep, heavy characters in my career and I just have a switch. People are amazed at that actually, because I can literally snot cry, ugly face cry, and when they yell cut, I can be like, “Girl, so anyway, back to what I…”
…I know my instrument. So, I know when to turn it on and when to turn it off. So that’s how I live. I’m not the one where you have to call me by the character’s name. As a matter of fact, please don’t. I hate that I’m Cookie now. People will call me that on the street and I cringe. I’m the type of actor where I can get away. They go cut, and I’m out of it. I still gotta be me. I have to be me in portraying these characters, otherwise you go mad. ‘Cause who are you? You’re always a character? It’s a job. Some people do this for a living, I do this.
However, it was her mission that moved us the most…
Henson: My mission is to do great work, to leave an incredible legacy behind. I want to do work that people study. I want be Bette Davis. I want to be that work that young thespians go, “I’ll study Taraji P. Henson’s work. It was her eyes, it was…” whatever it is. I focus on that. I focus on, as an artist, how can I change lives? How can I reach as many people? I don’t care what color you are,
what you believe in, who you sleep with at night. I want to touch a heart with my work. That’s why I play all these crazy characters.