Cars 3 honors the history of many powerful black men and women in the newest addition to the trilogy.
Isiah Whitlock, Jr. portrays the modest, yet hard driven pioneer, River Scott. The steadfast character has the battle scars of his past, but Isiah’s role as River Scott serves as a testament to the obstacles of history.
We recently sat down with Isiah Whitlock, Jr. and spoke with him about his role with Cars 3, coming to theaters June 16th, and his newest series The Mist.
The Knockturnal: Tell me about your role and the character your playing
Whitlock: The character I voice is the character, River Scott. He’s one of these guys that come from these modest beginnings. He has a hard drive and this sort of never-quit attitude. He was a trailblazer. He’s based on Wendell Scott, who was the first African American driver in the Nascar Series. That’s who I voice, and I am very proud of him.
The Knockturnal: When doing animated films, do you get to interact with the cast?
Whitlock: I haven’t done a lot of animated movies, and I would imagine that there are times that you would work with the cast. The stuff I did was by myself. In other movies, I would get some interaction to get an idea of just which way I should go. On this one, I am just by myself. It wasn’t one of the easiest things I have done, but I really did try to bring some life to this character. I tried to see myself in the certain situations that the character was in and make sure that he was well represented.
The Knockturnal: Did you get a chance to have a hand in your car design?
Whitlock: I didn’t, but what I saw, I was very, very happy with. My favorite colors are blue and red and if anything comes out in blue, I am always very, very happy with it. It brought a lot of joy when I saw the car and the way it looked. And it also helped me shape the character, voice wise. You can look at the car, and say, “Oh I think he can sound like this. This is the voice I am going to give him.” And that took me a very, very long way in creating the character and voice.
The Knockturnal: Did the character mimic you in anyway?
Whitlock: It takes a little of getting used to, because you have this car, which is one of the cars from the past. And your voice is coming out of it. At first, it kind of makes you stand up and take notice, but it’s a beautiful thing. I can’t tell you just how happy and proud I am to be the guy chosen to voice River Scott.
The Knockturnal: You are always popping up in our favorite TV shows. Can you tell us about your newest endeavor with the new show The Mist?
Whitlock: The Mist, is a novella based on this mist that comes and overtakes the town. I play the mall manager who gets trapped in the mall. I become sort of like this “Lord of the Flies” leader, so to speak. We are trying to survive. It’s a TV show about survival, and what lengths people will go to survive. I play the mall manager, and he creates a little bit of a kingdom inside the mall.
The Knockturnal: What is your go-to vehicle?
Whitlock: I believe it’s a Chevy. Wendell Scott was a very, very good mechanic. And he would pretty much do all of the work on his cars. I would imagine that car would be souped up and hot and ready to go. Those cars would have to be a whole hell of a lot faster than what was coming off the line back then. But it’s a good-looking car. Even though, it’s an old school looking car, I would imagine it would be really fast.
The Knockturnal: How would you pimp your ride out?
Whitlock: I grew up in South Indiana. That’s where all the Studebakers cars were made. First they made cover wagons, but then they went from cover wagons to Studebakers. I would imagine that you would be able to find a lot of them over in Cuba. I would put aux plugs and then I would put speakers in it. I wouldn’t make it too fancy. I love cars the way they were designed and the beauty of them. The most I would probably do is put some dice on the rear view mirror.
The Knockturnal: The Cars movies always have such great messages in them. What do you think people will take away from Cars 3?
Whitlock: I think they will take away drive, determination, and perseverance. That will be a huge message with this movie. They will also take away the fact that you will not be young forever, and you need to be ready for that transformation. And accept it. There’s nothing wrong with that. We put such an attention on that, but there’s nothing wrong with it. There is life after racing. You’ve just got to pretty much find out who you are, your spirit, and what’s in your heart. And I think a lot of young people will begin to see that. I think that will be one of the beautiful messages of this movie.