Thursday, October 21, 2021

Andre Holland Talks Playing ‘Noble Black Character’ on ‘The Knick’

Andre Holland
‘The Knick’

*In “The Knick,” Andre Holland plays the marginalized Dr. Algernon Edwards, battling prejudice in the Knickerbocker hospital in early-1900s New York.

The Steven Soderbergh-directed period drama was renewed for a second season before the first season even aired.

“People who liked the love story last year, will like the show even more this year because it goes even further,” Holland told Deadline in a new interview in which he also talks about what compels him to tackle political and racial roles, such as Selma.”

Below are excerpts from his interview, which you can read in full here.

Obviously both The Knick and Selma are period pieces handling racial issues – what’s compelling for you about tackling those roles?

I was brought up in Birmingham, Alabama, and so I was raised very much aware of the American Civil Rights Movement, and in a city that is still dealing with some residue of that. The other thing that I think tends to lead me to those parts is the fact that these are things that are still sort of an unresolved part of our cultural heritage, you know, I mean when you look at all of the things that are happening now, in and around the US. That is obviously something that’s still unresolved, and so it seemed like a part of my job, part of my mission, as an actor, to help to shed light on some of those situations in people’s lives, and to lend my voice to it. I do feel that in some small way, by playing characters that are upstanding characters, who are real people at the same time, and those who have really strong points of view, I think that’s my way of sort of contributing to the change that we need in our country. Those kind of characters just really speak to my soul and to who I am as an African-American man right now.

Obviously it’s Steven Soderbergh, but what else attracted you to The Knick?

Well the fact that it was a black character, in that time period, who wasn’t just an entirely noble character, but he was a really well-developed, three-dimensional character, who had a love interest, and he also had a profession, which he’s very good at, but then at the same time he had a very rich and volatile emotional life. In other words, he just felt very human to me, and that isn’t always the case frankly, when you read characters of color. In this case it was like a real guy, and you know, as I read the script there was so many scenes that I just couldn’t wait to play. That kind of a feeling is rare.

Check out a scene from “The Knick” (season 1) featuring Andre.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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