When it comes to the complex relationship between law enforcement and Black people, the discomfort and disconnect seemed to heighten over the last ten years with technology being so advanced. Thanks to cell phones, the world gets to a real-live police brutality incident go down right before their eyes— causing an even deeper distance between those in Blue and folks with Black skin. But what if you happen to be both; Black And Blue.
Deon Taylor‘s new action flick tells the story of just that. Rookie cop, played by Oscar nominated actress Naomie Harris, inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Tyrese Gibson) as she tries to escape both the criminals out for revenge and the police who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage.
I visited the set of the the thriller flick on day 28 of their 30th day of shooting and watched on as they filmed one of the more emotionally intense scenes of the film. Naomi’s character visits her mother’s grave accompanied by an old childhood friend (Tyrese) as she enlists his help to bust the corrupt officers. Their fellow cast members Mike Colter, Frank Grillo and Beau Knapp were also on set filming on that misty, New Orleans afternoon in Lafayette Cemetery.
I caught up with director Taylor, Harris and Tyrese and more of the cast as they dished on all things Black and Blue. And one thing that every actor in the film had in common is their love and respect for their director, Deon. When asked what drew him to this particular film, Mr. Taylor shared with the panel of journalists:
“I’m an independent filmmaker first. I’ve been doing this by myself for so long that I didn’t want to do anything studio wise. But when this script came to me, I just went crazy because I had never seen a film based around a female, Black police officer. And that’s just everything that I wanted to do.”
On preparing for her role as a police office, Naomi told us:
“I was able to draw on a lot of stuff that I did before because when I did Miami Vice, I did lots of undercover work, so I was out with the police and doing raids–I actually did a real drug sting. It was really exciting and terrifying.”
Tyrese added that taking on such a gritty role in Black and Blue definitely challenged him as an actor.
“First thing was me and Deon go back like six years. So once I got that call, my ears literally lit up. And on that call. I was saying to Deon, when you’re apart of these big franchised, it’s a gift and sometimes can work against you. Because these dark, dramatic roles that really require you to go there and peel back the layers — you get overlooked as an actor. They’ll say ‘Oh, he’s that guy from that thing.’ So the seriousness of a Naomi got me in the game of top. I was ready to make that statement.”
As we chatted with the entire cast during their break, Deon Taylor opened up about his own personal relationship with law enforcement as a Black man, saying:
“I’ve been affected by police officers in many different ways. From the patrolling, when I was younger, in terms of keeping people in certain areas and having a negative reaction to that in the Chicago area, and with how people police you, vs now, living in a different [area] and seeing how the police act there. You have to be a realist and understand, ok they patrol this way here, and they patrol that way there.”
“That’s one of the biggest themes in the film — Alycia being from the inner city, coming back to the inner city as a cop and how people look at her and what they say to her. And she has to find out the hard way that people don’t view her as a black female cop. They view her as a cop. She’s trying to make a breakthrough. There are so many different experiences and what we try to actually do is push all of that into one film. The movie takes a complete turn based on the fact that when she’s in trouble, someone from the neighborhood helps her and breaks code. And everything that we’re taught not to do, this character does.”
With everything going on in the world today regarding law enforcement, this film is a must see. The highly anticipated Screen Gems flick is in theaters nationwide October 25th.
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