Exclusive: Tony Award Winner Daveed Diggs Talks New Film ‘Wonder’

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Exclusive: Tony Award Winner Daveed Diggs Talks New Film ‘Wonder’
Posted by Wilson Morales

November 22, 2017

Currently playing in theaters from Lionsgate is the emotional and inspirational film Wonder, starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay.

Based on the New York Times bestseller by R.J. Palacio, WONDER tells the inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman (Tremblay).  Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade.  As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to find their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Directed by Stephen Chbosky from an adapted screenplay by Jack Thorne and Steve Conrad, the film also features Mandy Patinkin, Daveed Diggs, Sonia Braga, Ali Liebert, Izabela Vidovic, Millie Davis, and Emma Tremblay.

For Diggs, who plays the schoolteacher Mr. Browne, this happens to be the first film role he received after winning the Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his performance as role of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in the musical Hamilton. Since then, the Oakland, CA native has appeared on the Netflix series The Get Down and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the ABC series Black-ish, and The Mayor, which he also serves as an executive producer.

Blackfilm.com recently spoke with Diggs about his role in ‘Wonder’ and if he still catches Hamilton since leaving the production.

What attracted you to the film?

Daveed Diggs: When I read the script I was impressed by how emotional it made. As I started to think about Mr. Brown and the character, I used to teach middle school and it seemed like a good opportunity to honor teachers in kid focused movie and to have a teacher that’s not antagonist. I felt it was a cool thing for me to be a part of, especially since I have a lot of respect for teachers. I hope all the great teachers I had will see themselves in it.

Was this the first role you received after winning the Tony Award for Hamilton? Did you have to audition for it?

Daveed Diggs: I did not audition and yes, it’s the first role post-Hamilton. The script was sent to me and I had a conversation with the director.

How would describe Mr. Brown?

Daveed Diggs: He’s a champion for all of his kids. He’s dedicated to their growth as humans as well as their mastery of subjects. That’s the case with a lot of great teachers. When you turn your child over to someone who will spend more time with them than you, it comes with the territory that they are responsible for their development as people as well. It’s a huge amount of responsibility that Mr. Brown takes very seriously.

Is the character on screen different from the book?

Daveed Diggs: He’s actually a compilation of a few teachers from the book. For story same, their characteristics were folded into Mr. Brown.

How was working with the cast?

Daveed Diggs: Amazing. Jacob is so incredible and a fantastic actor and fantastic person. Julia and Owen are great as well. I never got to work with them on screen. I met them for the first time in London while promoting the film. To watch the film and see them, it feels great to know that I was in the film as well. It’s a cool moment for me.

What’s a good reason for folks to see Wonder?

Daveed Diggs: It’s a story about the bravery that it takes to be yourself and it’s an incredible inspirational story. It’s also very emotional buy it’s not all sad. I watched it in a theater by myself and I cried the whole time, but 75% of those tears were happy. It’s emotional because you thrusted in the mindset of a kid immediately. Because of that, you get to experience without having the walls that we as adults put up. It was nice to experience all of those emotions like that.

With this film and the projects you have done so far,  what are the roles that appeal to you?

Daveed Diggs: I try to keep doing things that I haven’t done before. I’m also looking for roles that are smart. I look for projects that don’t apologize for being smart.

Clip – Precepts

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