About a young Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, as he battles through one of his career-defining cases.
Directed by Reginald Hudlin and written by Michael and Jacob Koskoff, the film stars Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. It also stars Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown and James Cromwell. We sat down with actor Chadwick Boseman who can next be seen in Marvel’s Black Panther. Check out our interview after the jump.
The Knockturnal: How challenging was it for you as an actor to talk through Josh [Gad]?
Chadwick Boseman: It was very, very difficult. When I read the script initially I saw that I did not have the good courtroom speeches. The best I have is actually the speech at the end when I’m telling him how to do it. In one version of that I give the whole speech, and then he gives the whole speech in the courtroom, and they cut it together. That’s not necessarily how it was written, that’s how we ended up doing it. When I initially read it I was going to call Reggie (Reginald Hudlin) and say, ‘Hey, where’s my courtroom speeches? I’m playing Thurgood Marshall, what’s going on?’ But I realized it was the best thing for the movie to have to win the fight with your hands figuratively tied behind your back. That’s the conceit. This is the great challenge of this film: can Thurgood Marshall win a case without talking? And if he can, then he’s even greater than we thought he was. The great thing about it is that this is a true story; this is what really happened. So, for me, it became a thing of how do you remain the hero, the protagonist, the leader of the movie, and how are we going to shoot those scenes so the non-verbals are as loud as the verbals?
The Knockturnal: What did you learn most about Thurgood that surprised you?
Chadwick: That testicle story. I don’t think I could name anything that’s more surprising than that. Not just that it exists, but that he would tell it. He could be lying, he could be trying to make you wonder, so there’s a lot of different ways to play that scene. You could play it like, is he serious right now? When we were reading it, we were like, do we put this in? At one point, it wasn’t in the movie. It became a question of, should we do it or not? Is it true? Who can confirm this? Because no one could confirm it for us. It became a thing of, let’s put it in regardless because it tells something about him that he would tell that story.
The Knockturnal: Talk about why you chose to do this film considering what’s going on in the world today?
Chadwick: I don’t know if I made that connection. It takes place in 1941. There’s always going to be a sense of the past speaking to the present, I obviously knew that. But there was no way we could know that we were going to put the film out at this particular time. In fact, we thought we were going to be putting it out during the Obama administration as he was leaving the White House. The plan was to have a White House screening there. In this particular case, it was too soon. It was too soon. The movie wasn’t done yet and we had to wait till now. And so now, a lot of things have happened. There was no way of knowing it would be in this particular climate. But I’m glad that this movie now exists so it can speak to this time. You choose the film because it’s a great film whether or not it comes out at the right time. That’s really up to God. And the producers.