Hereafter/ Jenifer Lewis Interview

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HEREAFTER
An Interview with Jenifer Lewis
By Wilson Morales

October 13, 2010

Coming out this week is the latest film from director Clint Eastwood, ‘Hereafter.’

The film tells the story of three people affected by death in different ways. Oscar winner Matt Damon stars as George, a blue-collar American who has a special connection to the afterlife. On the other side of the world, Marie (played by Cécile de France) a French journalist has a near-death experience that shakes her reality. And when a London schoolboy (played by Frankie McLaren) loses the person closest to him, he desperately needs answers. Each on a path in search of the truth, their lives will intersect, forever changed by what they believe might or must exist in the hereafter.

Also included in the film is Jenifer Lewis, who plays Candace, George’s neighbor who will do anything and give everything to make a connection with her loved one.

For Ms. Lewis, after being seen in many sitcoms and African American films, her role in the film is a new step in her career.

Blackfilm.com recently spoke to Ms. Lewis in regards to her character and working with Clint Eastwood.

How would you describe your character?

Jenifer Lewis: Her name is Candice and she is desperate to speak with the psychic about her daughter who has passed away. And the scene is very intense. It’s with Matt Damon and I had a great time doing it- being a professional, him being a professional. We mocked in the moment that day and the scene came out great.

In some ways this is your smallest role, but your biggest role. Would you say that?

JL: I would say that. Well, let me see. Let me see, let me see, let me see. Yeah,
I would definitely say that.

How was working with Mr. Eastwood?

JL: He is a legend. I was honored and thrilled to work with him. It was- he was very trusting of the actors. Very easy on set. And that, of course, always puts the artist at ease. And I was able to really deliver for him. And he put me in trailer, which I was really shocked about and very happy about. I was just honored. I really was. I enjoyed myself very much. I joked around with him on the set. You know, we had some salmon and vegetables for the morning- I was like, “Can I get some of that, please?” It was great.

How did the role come about for you? Did you audition for it? Did they call you?

JL: Oh, I auditioned. I think over sixty women auditioned for the role. We were all put on tape and they say he sits and watches these tapes and he chose me. And I was like blown away. I’d actually forgotten about the audition because, you know, you go in and audition, you do your best, you leave the rest. Because rejection is a, you know, big part of what we do. Although, honey, at my age, I’m like, ‘Please.’ What’s for me is for me, at this point, you see? There was a time in your youth you go, ‘Oh man, oh man.’ Okay I do a bit of that, too. But just a little. But then they called. That was the extra excitement because I had really forgotten about it. And, you know, I didn’t think I’d be chosen for that role. But I had been certainly wanting to turn from comedy and start drama because I have that. I have the- you know I studied and God knows there’s a lot to be a middle age Black woman, trust me. There is an undercurrent of major humanity and compassion and fire, you know. The strong Black woman is hailed as- what is the word? Let me find it because it’s a good word, too. ‘Precious’ describes it very well. And I try to honor the honesty of those women who have become who they are if you know what I mean? The mothers, the aunts, the mother that says, ‘Sit down and have some chicken.’ The aunt that says, ‘Come on in here and have a drink.’ The sister in law who says, ‘Come here and let me hold your hand because you’re in trouble, baby.’ You know, that sort of thing. These women shape and mold us.

You’ve worked a long time and most people see you as being a comedian, or being in the animated films, or just being a sassy woman from the roles that you’ve done. What do you think this film will do for your career?

JL: Ron Howard came over to me last night at the party and he was very complimentary. He said, you know, ‘The scene was not melancholy. It was not predictable. It was’- what was the word he used. He said- there was no sappiness in it, basically. He said it was really honest. It was a very honest performance. And that meant a lot coming from him because he’s also a director that has put a lot of poetry up there on the screen for us to enjoy. So, yeah, will I work more in the mainstream? I think so. I think this part is gonna do a lot for me.

That’s great.

JL: Displaying that other talent that I do have, which is the drama piece. You know I have my B.A. in Theatre Arts from Webster University. And I studied the classics and there’s a lot to me. There’s a lot to me. I have the comic timing, the dramatics, the comedy and I’m able to dance. And I sing. A lot of people don’t know that I sing. I started in the Baptist church and I’ve tried to honor this gift all my life. And I think that’s one of the reasons I have sustained. I’ve done over, you know, sixty films and almost two hundred television shows, so I have to have something going on there. But like I was telling someone else this morning, I don’t know that it’s what we do, but I think it’s more who we are doing it. I think that’s what’s important.

What do you have coming up next?

JL: ‘Cars 2.’ The Disney Pixar animation. I’ll be reprising my role of Flo. And I’m also doing a concert in Los Angeles on November 27th at the Nate Holden Theatre called ‘Tis the Season with Jenifer Lewis.’ And I’m raising money to save the Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles. So we’re gonna do that big fundraiser and have some fun.

Are you looking forward to seeing ‘Colored Girls’?

JL: Yes, I am. Most definitely. I have all my friends running around in that.

You’ve worked with Tyler [Perry] on his TV series as well as in films. What’s the joy of working with him?

JL: The first one is that he treats us all like queens. You go down to Tyler’s movie studio and you are taken care of so well. And that, of course, puts us at ease right away. I love doing the ‘Meet the Browns’ TV series because I get to do slapstick. I love doing that stuff because I get to do prank falls. I mean, let’s face it, it is what it is. You can watch it or not watch it, you know what I’m saying?

What’s a good reason to see ‘Hereafter?’

JL: It’ll take you on a journey of your own, I think. I think you’ll see Clint Eastwood’s intellect and humanity up there and you’ll- I think you’ll travel where you want to. I think that the film will inspire you to go where you want to go and that’s- I think that’s what art is, whether it’s a painting or a film. And he does it with such ease you don’t- you’re not afraid. Sit there and take the ride.


  1. FILMLOVE99 says:

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