*“Sorry To Bother You” is one of the wackiest films you will see this summer but it’s laced with profound messages, whether it be racism, coding or just finding self. Whichever, rest assured you will walk away from this film maybe rubbing your head but indeed a bit wiser.
At an intimate setting in New York City at the Crosby Hotel, EURweb spoke to cast members Lakeith Stanfield (Cassius), Tessa Thompson (Detroit), Steven Yeun (Squeeze), Jermaine Fowler (Salvador), Terry Crews (Sergio), Omari Hardwick (Mr. Blank), and Boots Riley (Director/Writer). They laughed among themselves at the similar way they were dressed—Fowler and Yeun had on the same shirt—saying, “No one called anyone this morning before we left.” Fired up, the enthusiastic group spent most of the session on just the first question I asked.
You all have impressive track records, so why did this particular project resonate with you?
LAKEITH STANFIELD: I think the common thread is this guy’s mind (looking at Riley) right here. He wrote a crazy story that moved us all in some way, form or fashion and I think all of us to some degree knew it was an opportunity to embark on something unlike anything we’d done before. Something really different. It was just a cool opportunity for our careers, to stretch ourselves and get into this new world.
TESSA THOMPSON: I really, really, really wanted to make a film that made use of magical realism, or hung out in that space. For whatever reason those films just exclude black and brown people. They just are never in those narratives. So many filmmakers that I admire like Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry just don’t see us. The Civil Rights Movement was an act of imagination. I love that Boots was able to marry the act of imagination and activism. I love that I get to have rainbow colored hair. Why do lily-white actresses like Kate Winselt always get to play such colorful characters? Here, the film is about something and we get to have fun.
TERRY CREWS: First of all for years, actually decades, people of color have used the music industry to get our messages across. And, we weren’t allowed to dream. But we did it with groups like Parliament Funkadelic and Public Enemy. When I got to talk to Kendrick Lamar I said, ‘Man, when you made ‘GOOD KID: M.A.A.D CITY,’ that was our $100,000,000 movie. You know what I mean? When you look at it from the beginning to end, this was like our movie. This is a hit album set to film.
JERMAINE FOWLER: There were different messages in the script that resonated with each of us individually. For me, there was a story about a guy who gets a job he wanted really badly. But it wasn’t the job he was expecting and ends up loses himself. I know a lot of people back home who are still working at companies they hate. They, too, feel like they’re not being heard even though even when they’re code switching.
STEVEN YEUN: Anyone can write a script people haven’t seen before but it can also be a bunch of Gobbledygook. With Boots, it’s not only different but honest. This shows the importance of having people of color write and create. It’s like I’ll go look at my work from the past and while I felt free in that moment because it wasn’t written necessarily with my ethnicity in mind, I still conformed my freedom to fit within their boundaries. And although the images weren’t racist, they were subtle inferences I feel like were uncomfortable.
OMARI HARDWICK: This is just a great movie that Boots fought for 10 years to get made. Boots married activism and imagination because I think a lot of time in American there is a misconception about black people that we’re just surviving. It’s hard to see us in the spectrum of dreamers.
BOOTS RILEY: Most movies about people of color have them trying to survive. Or it paints them as one thing. That’s not this movie. I do hope overall there’s a feeling that through the craziness, through all the f**cked up things that happens, optimism comes with fighting, with pushing back.
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