Exclusive: Kiersey Clemons Dishes On The Only Living Boy In New York, Flash, Flatliiners & Casting Choices

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Exclusive: Kiersey Clemons Dishes On The Only Living Boy In New York, Flash, Flatliners and Casting Choices
Posted by Wilson Morales

August 8, 2017

Coming out this week in theaters from director Marc Webb ([500] Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man) is The Only Living Boy in New York, starring Jeff Bridges, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan, Cynthia Nixon, Callum Turner and Kiersey Clemons.

Adrift in New York City, a recent college graduate seeks the guidance of an eccentric neighbor as his life is upended by his father’s mistress in the sharp and witty coming-of-age story The Only Living Boy in New York.

Thomas Webb (Callum Turner), the son of a publisher and his artistic wife, has just graduated from college and is trying to find his place in the world. Moving from his parents’ Upper West Side apartment to the Lower East Side, he befriends his neighbor W.F. (Jeff Bridges), a shambling alcoholic writer who dispenses worldly wisdom alongside healthy shots of whiskey. Thomas’ world begins to shift when he discovers that his long-married father (Pierce Brosnan) is having an affair with a seductive younger woman (Kate Beckinsale). Determined to break up the relationship, Thomas ends up sleeping with his father’s mistress, launching a chain of events that will change everything he thinks he knows about himself and his family.

For Clemons, the Los Angeles native has been riding a big wave of success since starring in the Sundance hit Dope. Clemons has five films releasing in 2017 or 2018 including landing the coveted female lead opposite Ezra Miller in Warner Bros.’ superhero epic The Flash. Her character, the tough-as-nails journalist Iris West will be introduced in the much-anticipated Justice League, alongside Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams.

Clemons will have a voiceover in the animated Michael Jackson Halloween special. She will then be seen in the Sony sequel to its 1990 thriller Flatliners, followed by J.D. Dillard’s forthcoming survival thriller Sweetheart, for Blumhouse.

In speaking exclusively with Blackfilm.com, Clemons talks about her latest film, followed by her upcoming projects.

What was the attraction to the project?

Kiersey Clemons: I really liked the dialogue and the honesty that was necessary from the film that you’re not getting from many people but from my character Mimi, though I was excited in the different ways that I could put that in there. She also has an awesome wardrobe.

How would you describe Mimi?

Kiersey Clemons: They are in this window of platonic and romantic status and they are a number of things that Marc, myself and Callum discussed regarding their relationship. How close did they get emotionally and physically? There are these areas that you don’t really get answers in and that’s really special because it makes it so relatable to everybody. I think Thomas and Mimi’s relationship isn’t abnormal at that age. We’re through that phase of “What do I do with that person when I don’t know what to do with myself?”

Some relationships are risky. Everyone, rightfully so, is afraid of being hurt. It’s fun, like in the movie, to wait for that moment when one of them stops holding their breathe and actually says all the things. We all know how that feels when your heart starts bursting out of your chest.

How was working with Callum?

Kiersey Clemons: He’s incredibly talented and such an amazing person and we had such a good time working together. I’m so glad he was the person playing Thomas because this project was in the works for such a long time that I can’t imagine anyone else playing that part. He is Thomas.

Did you get a chance to talk with any of the cast members?

Kiersey Clemons: Yeah. There were a lot of times when I was not working and I could stop by the set, especially in New York. In the hair and makeup trailer is the time when you can really talk. You get to know everyone and everyone was happy to be there and has such a grand story. We all come from different parts and generations and it’s a mind-blowing experience.

What’s the best way to describe this film?

Kiersey Clemons: I guess you can call it a coming-of-age film. I think it’s classic. It’s a movie that has an original screenplay and has a great storyline and the dialogue is realistic and amazing. I think it’s great that these stories are being told because we have lost a lot of that.

What goes into the roles that you say yes to?

Kiersey Clemons: I really try to focus on what I want to do and not what everyone else is expecting of me. People have their own definition of strength for example. I look at Cynthia Nixon’s character from this film. Some may think that they should have made her character more stronger but I think it’s very strong. She’s this vulnerable woman and she’s made these decisions that she faces and she sees that. I think there’s so much strength in that. I try to see the different representations when I’m making a movie and not based it off from what seems so black and white and politically correct. I’m going to do this. Sometimes it fires back at you if the story is not told appropriately. You have to base it off on who’s your director and who’s your team and cast. What does everyone want from this? That’s what I based these decisions on.

You have Flatliners coming up. Had you seen the original film?

Kiersey Clemons: With the original movie, I watched what I needed to in order to get the tone of things, bits and pieces. I didn’t want to let it affect what we were doing. I saw enough to know why we were are rebooting this movie and why we are continuing to tell this story. I think we have a hunger to knowing what’s on the other side and how we can reach that without necessarily dying. It’s through lust and love and we talk about that and it’s modern and it’s a movie for our generation.

Can you talk about the animated special Michael Jackson’s Halloween?

Kiersey Clemons: I was so excited when I got the offer to do that. Obviously, I love Michael Jackson and I was so honored. I can’t believe that I get to even be a part of any Michael Jackson special or anything. I always wanted to do voice-over and it was my first time. I haven’t seen it yet. I can’t wait for it to be done. It’s going to be so weird but I’m so excited. It’s really honoring his legacy and it’s so respectful and kids are going to watch it. I’m thankful for that.

With The Flash among your many projects, were you a comic book fan?

Kiersey Clemons: No, I wasn’t really a comic book fan and to be honest I wasn’t interested in a lot of the superhero things that have come my way. I had considered other superhero movies prior to that and The Flash was the only one obviously because Rick Famuyiwa was a part of it. But more importantly, it was believing and trusting Ezra (Miller). There was a point where I was like, “I want to be the superhero. I’m tired of being offered the superhero’s fucking girlfriend journalist” and here I am doing it now. I think there is so much duty being able to support your partner and I support Ezra so fucking much and I love him so much. There’s no one else I would want to make these movies with and I can’t believe we get to go on this journey together and it’s going to be insane. I have his back like no other. I’m in this for the experience. Sometimes you have to do shit for the experience.

So, we will see you in Justice League before Flashpoint?

Kiersey Clemons: Yes. I hope I don’t get out. I hope I made it.

Then there’s Blumhouse Productions’ “Sweetheart,” the latest thriller from “Sleight” director JD Dillard. How much can you talk about that film?

Kiersey Clemons: With Sweetheart, I’m keeping that on the low because it’s a thriller. We don’t want to break any of the mystery and if I tell you anything, it will ruin the movie. Most of the movie is me and we filmed it in CG and it’s Blumhouse and my is JD Dillard. This is the time where we are making a movie for young black women. Everyone is going to love it. Everyone is going to watch it. He wanted to make a movie for his sisters. To hear my black director say, “My sisters are going to love this!,” makes me cry. That’s who we are making this for and I’m so happy.

Now, with these films, you are also paired with Callum Turner, Ezra Miller, and Ethan Cohen. Are Black actors not being considered to play opposite you? 

Kiersey Clemons: I know. It’s the most disappoint thing that when I get to send in my options of who I want to play my opposite in a movie, the options that I get back a majority are white. When I say majority, there’s maybe one black in the mix. I’m like, “Where are my options at?” I sent in a list that include Black or Latino. You also have to look at it this way. I’ve come into a movie after the white male lead has be cast, which means – that’s their priority. We have to make the Black male the priority. I think that in the near future, they will be more of a priority but it’s such a fight; and I’m fighting and fighting. That’s all that we can do while being in the room and in the meeting. When it’s up to me and I’m the person that’s been cast first, I have more say; but when someone else has been cast before me, I guess it is what it is. It takes time but the conversations are being had. I just wished it didn’t have to be so lengthy otherwise what am I fighting for? We’ll get there one step at a time.


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