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Interview: Tyrese, Naomie Harris and Deon Taylor Discuss BLACK AND BLUE

Interview: Tyrese, Naomie Harris and Deon Taylor Discuss the Potential Social Impact of BLACK AND BLUE

Tyrese Deon Taylor Discuss BLACK AND BLUE

BLACK AND BLUE is a fast-paced action thriller that addresses important social issues that plague many communities across the country.


The story opens with rookie New Orleans police officer Alicia West (Naomie Harris) out for a jog to visit her mother’s grave. Earbuds in, she doesn’t hear a police cruiser pull up until she’s shoved up a fence being frisked. “Yo, she’s blue,” says the cop who has just pulled out her police ID. His partner backs off. “Sorry about that. We’re looking for someone matching your description. You know how it is.”


Alicia snatches her ID away. “Yeah, I know how it is.”


Born and raised in the city’s Ninth Ward, she recently returned to her hometown to be with her dying mother after three tours in Afghanistan. Three weeks into working with her new partner Kevin Jennings (Reid Scott), she runs into people from her past life in New Orleans at a coffee stop: Mouse (Tyrese Gibson) and her former best friend Missy (Nafessa Williams), who pretend they don’t know her. Shaken, Alicia tries — and fails to connect.


Later that day, she volunteers to cover a shift for Kevin and gets paired with veteran cop Officer Deacon Brown (James Moses Black). Resistant to his new young female sidekick, he lectures her on “being on the right side,” and tells her to stay in the car when he stops at an abandoned warehouse. After hearing shots fired, Alicia runs inside, just in time to see narcotics officer Terry Malone (Frank Grillo) execute a young black man, and captures the footage on her body cam. Shot in her bulletproof vest, Alicia falls through the floor and attempts to escape. With Malone, his henchman Smitty (Brian Knapp), and Officer Brown in hot pursuit, she heads back to the convenience store where Mouse works, wounded and begging for help. Mired in a community where distrust runs deep, Mouse just wants to keep his head down, but he ultimately agrees to help Alicia get the body cam footage back to the precinct where she can download it and do what’s right. In the meantime, Malone has alerted Darius (Mike Colter), head of the Kingston Crew, that a cop killed his nephew—and Alicia now has a target on her back not only from her fellow cops but also from the community in which she grew up. Alicia races through the streets of New Orleans to get the body cam footage out into world, ultimately ending up finding redemption in the most unlikely place.


Interview: Tyrese, Naomie Harris and Deon Taylor Discuss BLACK AND BLUE


Unfortunately for Alicia, the people she grew up with want nothing to do with her, branding her a traitor and a sellout. And initially that’s the case with Milo “Mouse” Jackson, an artist and old friend who has, in adulthood, chosen to stay out of the criminal aspects of his community. Though Mouse starts off not wanting to be involved in any drama, when Alicia shows up at his apartment for safe haven, she’s transfixed by the artwork. Mouse explains to her that “murals are my way of making some kind of difference in the world,” adding, “You must be the change—” and Alissa finishes the sentences, “—you wish to see in the world.” She challenges him to live up to it.



Tyrese Gibson plays Mouse, a dream role for the actor known for the Fast and the Furious franchise, who says he was ready for a grittier film. “Mouse is an artist. He’s an ex-con who got out and was just trying to get things done, clean, above board, honorable,” says Gibson. “The whole time this is all happening, he’s just trying to stay alive, keep Alicia alive, take care of his nephew, because death, prison… It’s all right there.”


When these two reluctant protagonists join forces, they’re fighting not only the clock but an impulse to not taking the easy way out. “It’s one thing for someone to say that they’re the hero. It’s another thing to be the unexpected hero,” says Gibson. “And I think that’s the dynamic of our relationship in the movie. Alicia left the city, did a couple of tours serving our country, came back, and then she’s just like, I’m a police officer. What makes her the unexpected hero, is that she’s trying to expose what’s going on. Mouse just kind of got sucked into it. He really does feel like he can help her out because she’s been out of the streets for so long and he know these streets. And he’s just doing the best he can.”


Interview: Tyrese, Naomie Harris and Deon Taylor Discuss BLACK AND BLUE


I spoke with BLACK AND BLUE stars Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson, and director Deon Taylor to discuss more about the film’s creation and its potential impact.




Given the climate in our country and all that that we’re seeing around, how much were you informed by local law enforcement or perhaps getting any consultation from law enforcement professionals on sort of informing how the script was written and how the dynamics of the story kind of play out? Did you get any interaction in that way?


Tyrese: The first thing is our entire set was protected and secured by local New Orleans Police Department. We didn’t use movie security. We used off duty and current on duty police officers. And as far as consulting, you’ll see that there was only so much focus on the mayor, so much focus on what actually happened in the city. This movie is not about the mayor who’s currently in jail right now, we didn’t want to tell that story. We wanted to focus on police corruption and if anyone has any piece of a moral compass and they actually want to do the right thing and speak up on abuse, or speak up on abuse in power, or speak up on smuggling drugs, or police corruption or anything that has to do with what’s going on that has nothing to do with what they committed to. You know?


So of course we did research. Of course we had real conversations with people that are born and raised in New Orleans, but if you know what I know when you from the ghetto, when you from the city, it’s the same thing going on. It doesn’t matter what ghetto you’re living in. There are localized politics and issues in every city.




Deon Taylor: Going into the film, I actually arrived into New Orleans around four and a half months before we started production and then I was able to stay there for a little bit and basically tour a lot of the police precincts. So I was able to do a few ride-alongs. I had maybe two or three weeks of basically sitting with a few narcs, a few retired police officers that were on duty and had worked in New Orleans pre-Katrina and post-Katrina, and that was really where a lot of the energy from the screenplay came from. Was after I had those moments to sit there and learn a little bit of how things went and just how at times corrupt the police force was there and had been across the country.


I’m also from Gary, Indiana. Being from Gary, we also have knowledge of how corrupt police officers can be in Chicago PD and we understand that world. So going into the screenplay sitting with these officers, visiting these officers, going to the different precincts, understanding when they actually brought the body camera into existence into New Orleans, how police officers used them, didn’t use them, turned them off, refused to wear them, took a stance not to wear them, was a really, really good exercise for me.


Interview: Tyrese, Naomie Harris and Deon Taylor Discuss the Potential Social Impact ofBLACK AND BLUE



Ultimately one of the biggest moments in the movie that we actually showed in the film is Naomi Harris’s character is wearing a body camera and her leading officer that she actually rides with in the first act of the movie, does not wear one. And that’s because I learned that in New Orleans a lot of the older guys refuse to wear the body cameras. So that was a very interesting thing there.


But outside of that, I think you’re going to love the movie. I’m hoping that you’re praying for us. We need it. We want to obviously shake up the world, but at the same time make sure people have a good time. Enjoy the movie, come out with the message of being the change. Be human, see something, say something. This is real subject matter that really affects humans, really affects people, really comes down to the core of touching people’s heartstrings and it’s done in a really, really cool way. So hopefully we can get some energy around that.




How do you all control the narrative of your emotions regarding law enforcement officers after being in this film knowing that situations as these are true and is currently happening today?

Tyrese: I would honestly say to you that there’s only so many roles that are written that are true, that ring true, and that has this level of raw, unapologetic truth inside of it. You would expect to not be entertained from this movie. You would expect a pastor up on the podium or some political person up on the podium preaching and talking to you or it being a feeling like a documentary. This is like a real movie.


Interview: Tyrese, Naomie Harris and Deon Taylor Discuss the Potential Social Impact ofBLACK AND BLUE


I was in the movie, but I’ve seen it now three times and I swear I be up in there jumping up and down and going crazy like I ain’t got nothing to do with the movie because the way Deon went about this kind of aggressive pulse of these guys throughout the movie chasing Naomi’s character and then end up chasing me, it’s just crazy. It’s just really crazy. It feels like a thriller. It feels like horror. It feels like horror without the white man falling in the woods and tripping over a wood branch going, “Oh my God.” You know. It’s a real aggressive situation and I think when people see it because it’s so relatable, they really feel like they’re a part of the movie and they feel like they’re a part of these characters that’s in the movie, and I just, I can’t wait for people to see it.


Interview: Tyrese, Naomie Harris and Deon Taylor Discuss BLACK AND BLUE


BLACK AND BLUE opens in theaters October 25, 2019.

Tyrese, Naomie Harris and Deon Taylor Discuss BLACK AND BLUE

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