*We had the opportunity to attend a special screening of the film “Marshall,” based on the life of former Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall. The event was held at Compton High School on the 50th anniversary of Thurgood’s swearing into the supreme court, and to kick off October as anti-bullying month.
Following the screening, a panel discussion took place that featured Chadwick Boseman – who stars as Thurgood – actor Sterling K. Brown, Josh Gad who portrays lawyer Sam Friedman, director Reginald Hudlin, Jussie Smollett – who has a cameo in the film as Langston Hughes and singer Andra Day. It was Moderated by Black Eyed Peas front man Will I Am.
Here’s what they had to say about why it was important to be a part of this film, connecting with the youth and why it didn’t matter that Chadwick Boseman isn’t “light skinned” like Thurgood Marshall was.
“This wasn’t a story most people are familiar with” said Chadwick Boseman, “most people know Brown vs. the Board of Education but this is an earlier time, 13 years before that case took place.”
Sterling K. Brown, who plays Joseph Spell, the man whose case “Marshall” is based off of, said this:
“American history and black history are one in the same. The institution of racism is so persuasive, anyone who believes we are in a post racial society or the abscess that is on the American cultural. If you don’t know your history, you will repeat it. “
“13 years before Brown vs the board of education, Thurgood Marshall was one man driving through the south, the only lawyer from NAACP, risking his life to find cases where African-Americans were in need of defense, that were falsely accused. The power of one man.”
Director Reginald “Reggie” Hudlin compared the elements of the case to current themes:
“This case is provocative. It has sex, violence and racial undertones. It was a big tabloid story at the time in 1941, and stories like this are big news currently. You don’t know the outcome and all those things make for a good movie.
Hudlin said it was important to have this screening at Compton high because as a child, he was inspired when people like this would come to his school.
“I believe in paying it forward,” the Marshall director said.
We also talked to Reggie Hudlin about some questioning if the role of Thurgood Marshall should have gone to an actor of lighter complexion because of the impact colorism had on Marshall’s career. Hudlin said that was a consideration, but not to the point where you don’t cast the best actor for the job.
“Spike Lee had to make a similar decision casting Denzel Washington as Malcom X, he chose the best actor. It’s about who can capture the whole man and skin tone didn’t matter.”
Hudlin went on to say that everyone who has seen the film, even some skeptics, were blown away by Chadwick’s performance.
Jussie Smollett said his role as poet, playwright and activist Langston Hughes was special because of the “opportunity to show the brotherhood between Hughes and Marshall that most didn’t know existed.” He said his mother gave him Hughes’ book, “The ways of white folks” to read at seven.
“Marshall” is based on the young Thurgood Marshall defending a black chauffeur in 1941 against his wealthy socialite boss in a sexual assault and attempted murder trial. It opens in theaters on October 13.
For MORE info including tickets and a theater near you, click HERE.