Since stepping into the entertainment industry at age nine, Jacob Latimore has been leaving an imprint in music and film.
After starring with Oscar winners Jennifer Hudson and Forrest Whitaker in the 2013 film Black Nativity, Jacob is now taking on the role of time personified in the upcoming film Collateral Beauty starring alongside Academy Award nominee Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet and Edward Norton. Jacob spoke with us about filming working with Will smith and more.
What initially drew you to the character of Raffi?
Jacob Latimore: I think what drew me obviously playing something that is not human or maybe playing an abstraction is always unique. I think out the gate I wanted to a part of because the cast is incredible, but besides that I think the film has really great depth to it and there was so many different pieces and details a part of it. It just felt like it was gonna be a good one. As an actor you always want to be a part of those screenplays and be around creative minds, creative people. I definitely was drawn to it just like everyone else is when they see it.
How did you prepare for your role portraying “time”?
Jacob: For me I was trying to figure out. I’m playing time, so am I wearing a clock, I didn’t really know what to think of it. I was like is time a young blood who wears Timbalands, and a hoodie and a jean jacket. But I think for me I just tried to represent the concept of time, and really show how important time is, that time doesn’t wait for you , time doesn’t slow down for you, you can’t remind it and go back and try to redo things in life. Time doesn’t care it will keep moving on. You have to deal with things, feel that pain or go through that threshold in your life and keep living on because like I said time will keep going on.
Was there ever a time in your life where you wished you could slow down time?
Jacob: Yeah absolutely. I’m still very young and I don’t want to make myself sound old in any way but I was so used to saying 15, I’m 16 now, or I’m 18, 19 and then when I hit 20 I was like ok, I’m 20, obviously I’m still young, but it just sounded different and sound like a new chapter and I feel like I was ten years old yesterday. I think we all in a way wish time slowed down just a little bit, I think when we think about that we stop and realize ok are we really exploring life seeing life enough so that maybe time really isn’t that fast maybe it’s just all that way in our heads because we don’t really stop to take the time to experience each day to the fullest.
In which ways do you relate to Raffi, how is Raffi similar to yourself?
Jacob: With Raffi I think if anything I related to the time concept the most. I think when we go into Raffi’s world just a little bit, because we only see a sneak peak of what Raffi’s world may be like when he talks about his parents and it seems like maybe he’s lost touch with his parents or they have passed away, but you can tell he’s found that joy in life again. But for me I couldn’t really relate to losing someone of close family. I’ve had so much family support around me, all my grandmothers are still here, my grandpas, my mom, my father I have so many cousins, so much love around me, I couldn’t really relate to the other concepts of the film. But time more so I related to because how much time am I spending with my family, am I picking up the phone enough to call them to see how they’re doing. Those are the things I sort of related to the most.
If you had to ask time a question, what would that question be?
Jacob: If I had to explain something to time, death or love I would say great things. I’m young I’ve accomplished so much at a young age and time has just been good to me. With death I would definitely question it and say why do we have to go through this threshold of death I would probably ask that concept way more questions. But when it comes to love I have great things to say about that because with so much family support and love around me, it definitely affected me in a positive way.
In working with Will Smith, what advice did he give you that you found to be most inspiring or helpful?
Jacob: We were in New York, filming and I said how do you deal with all these people. He gives so much of himself for his fans. Every time they say cut people would rush and he would take pictures and keep a smile on his face. I would say how do you do it and he would say his whole perception changed when he met Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali, and those are two of the most famous people in the world. He said Nelson Mandela talked about how you have to go out there and touch the people so they know that you’re flesh. They keep seeing you on tv and think of you as an idea, they think of you as a robot and non- human. I have to show love to the people and show love to the people and connect with them in a way like no one else so they know that I’m real so they know that I’m human. I thought that was the most inspiring thing ever. Another thing he said while we were filming the scene is if you can make them laugh and cry in one scene you’re killing it. At first I didn’t know what that meant, I was saying ok I get it but how do I do that. I finally looked at the movie and I found myself crying and laughing all at the same time and said yeah we’re definitely killing it. We’re getting really good feedback with the film. He was right.
Now Collateral Beauty was filmed in New York, and you also filmed Black Nativity in New York. How was filming Collateral Beauty in New York, different from filming Black Nativity in New York?
Jacob: I think the difference, the storyline was obviously a lot different. But also in a way very kind of similar when you think about Raffi. If you take away the whole time concept from Raffi, Raffi looks similar obviously it’s me, but if you see the way Raffi dresses and maybe the neighborhood that he grew up in, maybe Raffi and the character from Black Nativity could have been friends, maybe they could have been close. But I think it was just Raffi living in Howard’s world in Ed’s character’s world in more of a city like non urban like environment.
What were some of your favorite places in New York to film at?
Jacob: My favorite places was probably the skate park. I think that was just a really cool place. I forgot the name of the skate park, it was right under a bridge. Everything as far as the bridge everything looked magical and really mysterious and cool and hip and real like metropolitan vibes. The city just has good energy to it.
How has taking on the role of Raffi helped you grow as an actor?
Jacob: I think this role has helped me learn a lot. I think for me it was just being around this incredible cast. Working with Helen, working with Will and just seeing how they could observe a scene and break it down and simplify it. I mean the script was changing every other day so I never memorized stuff too much because I knew things were gonna change like every other day. The script is very complex and very detailed. Details were important with this film so many pieces to the puzzle. I think just me watching the people around me my cast mates and me being a younger underdog with this film really helped me a whole lot and changed my perspective on taking on a film.
The film hits theaters on December 16, 2016.