At the opening night of New York Film Festival, Laurence and Quinton talk everything from prepping for the film, to how the cast helped Quinton find an apartment.
The opening night of New York Film Festival was a star studded event celebrating film and everyone who’s anyone in the New York film scene. Paramount of these, are the stars of the opening night film, Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying, starring acting legends Laurence Fishburne, Bryan Cranston, and Steve Carell, as well as up and coming star J. Quinton Johnson. Fishburne shared his experience working with Linklater, how he prepped for the role, and the unique way his role in Apocalypse Now shapes the character he played in this recent film, who is a retired war veteran turn minister. In addition to that, we got a chance to speak with Quinton, who the more experienced Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne, and Bryan Cranston treated like a beloved nephew. With his recent addition to the cast of Hamilton, he’s had to move to New York, which prompted his three new uncles to offer him advice on everything, including how to live in New York and where to get an apartment. He also shared his favorite films starring his co-stars and how Laurence played a crucial role in his decision to pursue higher education. Check out the amazing interviews we conducted with them on the red carpet of the opening night of New York Film Festival.
J. Quinton Johnson
How was working with these legendary actors?
Quinton: They were clowning around like any film set, of course, of guys. I found out I had booked Hamilton around this time, so a lot of the guys were giving me tips on how to live in New York as it was my first time living in New York. So we’d be shooting like a heavy scene then they’d be like “you can live in midtown, but you can also live uptown, just yada yada yada” shoot the scene, cut, “So where you thinking about moving?” Just kind of like always being the uncle, more so than the grandfather or dad.
What was one of your favorite films, starring one of the cast you worked with?
Quinton: Steve, for me, I loved the comedy stuff, The Office, 40-Year-Old Virgin, then watching his career transform with Big Short and Foxcatcher was incredible. Bryan, you know, Breaking Bad, one of the best things in television history and a lot of his movie stuff too. By the way, I loved him in All The Way and the film stuff he’s doing with that but specifically the play. Studying that performance, it’s so nuanced and I actually loved Laurence and I told him this, in Higher Learning, a film he did years and years ago which meant so much to my Mother and I, as I was like, am I going to college or not? You know those formative years of like, is higher education going to be something that’s meant for me and to watch that movie with my mom, and I’m her only son, to watch that, those are a few of those films from those guys I loved.
Richard Linklater has such a natural pace of directing. What was it like working with him?
Quinton: This was my second time. I did two films in a row with this cat, Everybody Wants Some, go watch it! He’s great! Even with Everybody Wants Some, you watch that film and it seems so laid back and relaxed but like, then you see something like this and you’re like it must been such a heavy feeling, but it’s the same. He doesn’t switch up. He has his pace, he has his demeanor and that doesn’t change, regardless of subject matter.
After decades of playing memorable characters, how do you prepare for roles today? Also, do you look back on some of your previous characters, like the one you played in Apocalypse Now?
Laurence: Well the Apocalypse Now experience informed this character. Certainly, because I have a history and a knowledge of all things about the Vietnam war. We had rehearsal. We had time to go over the material. Darryl was involved in the rehearsal process as well, so we were able to ask him questions as well. We asked questions of each other and you know, again, all three of us are pretty much master actors. We bring our experience and weight and that’s kind of how it happens.