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November 2007
An Exclusive Interview with Andre Braugher

An Exclusive Interview with Andre Braugher

By Wilson Morales

November 20, 2007

Appearing on television for years on ‘Homicide’, ‘Thief’, and ‘Hack’, as well as appearances on some notable films such as ‘Glory’, ‘City of Angels’, and more recently, ‘Poseidon’, ‘Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer’, Emmy Award-winner Andre Braugher makes the transition from TV to Film and vice-versa with ease.

Coming up next for this gifted actor is a role in ‘The Mist’, directed by Frank Darabont, and based on famed author Stephen King’s short story.

Following a violent thunderstorm, artist David Drayton and a small town community come under vicious attack from creatures prowling in a thick and unnatural mist. Local rumors point to an experiment called the 'The Arrowhead Project' conducted at a nearby top-secret military base, but questions as to the origins of the deadly vapor are secondary to the group's overall chances for survival. Retreating to a local supermarket, Drayton and the survivors must face-off against each other before taking a united stand against an enemy they cannot even see!

In speaking with blackfilm.com, Andre Braugher talks about his character, why he chose the role, and his upcoming role in ‘Andromeda Strain’.

Can you talk about the character you play in ‘The Mist’?

Andre Braugher: Frank Norton is a brilliant attorney. He’s a man with a vacation house in a small little town by the lake and he has a crazy neighbor in David Drayton. They’ve been in a dispute and he goes to the supermarket with David after the storm and they are trapped by the mist and from there as things go with the earthquakes and the loss of power and that sort of thing. He makes a decision to leave when everyone believes that rescue from the mist is impossible. He refuses to believe in essence that mist is taking over the world and he takes 4 or 5 people out into the mist with him and the movie suggests that they don’t make it out. He represents the limits of reason. Logic can only take it so far in a situation like this in which the mist covered the earth and that we are one bubble of living humanity inside this unknown thing taking over.

Among the cast, did you work out or talk through some of the ideas and some of the philosophical intimations of the film?

AB: We chit-chatted about it, but I don’t think we really… No one ever got into a formal discussion about the philosophical aspects of the film, because you can’t play that, you know what I’m saying? And being an ultimate realist, you know what I mean, we need things we can sink our teeth into as actors, that is.

If you were in that given situation, what would you have done?

AB: We all speculate what we might do in a situation like that. What usually happens is that people react poorly. They don’t have a lot of time, they don’t think clearly and they make a lot of mistakes, especially grasping on their own fears and prejudices and superstitions that’s really one of the chief drivers of their behavior. The mist defies reason. What is it and where does it come from and what does it mean? People are looking and desperate for meaning. One guy starts off as a normal person, in denial, doesn’t believe in the bogeyman, and then later something happens and then he believes. By the time he comes back from the pharmacy, he’s mad, and then a day he turns into a killer. He’s gone from disbelief to belief to madness to a religious conversation of madness that makes him become a sacrificial killer. People will desperately cling to whatever gives them hope in a hopeless situation.

What attracted you to this film and had you read ‘The Mist’ before?

AB: I read ‘The Mist’ before I read the adaptation. I knew that Frank Darabont had done it. I had seen both ‘The Green Mile’ as well as ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ so I knew he was quite a fine director. I knew he had some insight of Stephen King’s work and then I read ‘The Mist’, the novella to see what Frank had drawn on and whether it was true to Stephen King’s work. Looking at the character, which is not a big character in the film, I was surprised that was this much publicity on my part. I knew I wanted to be a part of this film because I sensed that it would be special. It has all the pedigree of Stephen King, whom I am a great admirer of and Frank Darabont, who has demonstrated time and time again that he is a good director and I wanted to be a part of it.

The last three films that you have appeared in, ‘The Poseidon’, ‘Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer’, and this film are all sci-fi, or action oriented films. Is that something that you are aware of when you are picking out these projects?

AB: That’s what they are making these days. So, in a certain way, I’m swimming in a pond that’s available. Every summer has a variety of action oriented, sci-fi-esque films, and those are the franchises that people are gravitating towards. No studio wants to take a chance on good, old fashion drama.

What was shooting the film like?

AB: I like the shoot. Frank was running a lot of cameras and the filming was fast paced, but I’m used to it. I’ve been in it for 15 years since I started. I did over 100 episodes of ‘Homicide’, which was shot with one camera seven days. We did whole episodes and that’s the style that he became comfortable with and it was quite liberating. I felt as we were quite free and spontaneous on the set and it went well for me.

Do you like the feeling of doing films as opposed to doing TV, which you did for a number of years?

AB: There are similar. When I think of the pieces that I have done, I would have to say ‘Thief’ and ‘Homicide’ were much more free-flowing than ‘Gideon’s Crossing’ or ‘Hack’. I felt unease with a moving camera. After a 20 year career, I feel as though the camera is second nature now. I didn’t think it was awkward at all doing it and I like this kind of film.

ANDROMEDA STRAIN, is that next for you?

AB: Yes, that’s coming out in February on A&E.

What do you play?

AB: I play a military man who’s the head of the division that’s supposed to be taking on this Andromeda Strain, this virus that’s taking over. Benjamin Bratt plays the mercurial, hotheaded scientist who’s responsible for tracking this thing down and destroying it.

Is this going to be a very different adaptation from the feature?

AB: It’s very different. You know, Crichton’s book doesn’t hold up to the test of time. And so, not much happens, if you go back to 1968 and you read that book it’s anticlimactic, period. So this is an entire, this is a retelling of the story, with the same premise, but an entirely new retelling.

Can you talk about some of the differences?

AB: Well, you know, the virus ultimately proves deadly, the virus escapes and it mutates, and it’s on the loose, and we have to discover a response to it. There are elements of that film SPHERE involved in it, in terms of the involvement of another power in the creation of the virus. But ultimately it just updates it, you know, just brings it to a present-day realm, where instead of there being this wonderful deus ex machina where the virus just mysteriously happens to become benign, now it’s not mysteriously benign, it’s still malignant, and it’s on the loose.

Why should anyone go see ‘The Mist’?

AB: I would say that it’s a really good film. If you are hungry for something deeper, than just your normal horror, sci-fi film, ‘The Mist’ has that too, on a lot of levels, political and social. It’s quite a good film.

THE MIST opens on November 21, 2007



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