Saturday, September 24, 2022

Bokeem Woodbine: ‘Overlord’ Star Talks Zombies, Nazis and Reppin’ for the Culture [EUR Exclusive]

Actor Bokeem Woodbine of 'Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G.' on USA speaks onstage during the NBCUniversal portion of the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 9, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Jan. 8, 2018 - Source: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America)
Actor Bokeem Woodbine of ‘Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G.’ on USA speaks onstage during the NBCUniversal portion of the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 9, 2018 in Pasadena, California.
(Source: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America)

*Bokeem Woodbine is one of those rare actors who takes your breath away with his visually arresting performances across ANY genre.

A star of both the big and small screens, he most recently starred in FX’s Emmy and Golden Globe winning series “Fargo”, in which he was nominated for an Emmy for his captivating role as “Mike Milligan”. Other memorable roles include TNT’s “Saving Grace,” the acclaimed feature “Ray” starring Jamie Foxx; “Life” with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence; the horror-thriller “Devil”; Stephenie Meyer’s sci-fi “The Host”; “Riddick” with Vin Diesel, Len Wisemen’s recent remake of the cult classic “Total Recall” and most recently, director JJ Abram’s science fiction horror “Overlord,” a wild mash-up of War World II history, zombies and Nazis with our brotha Woodbine in the mix of chaos.

EUR/Electronic Urban Report caught up with the Harlem native to dish about representation in the zombie genre and why “Overlord” should be a part of your DVD collection.

Get into our Q&A below.

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What’s been the reaction from Black fans of the zombie genre seeing you represent for the culture in this project?

Bokeem: You know, a lot of people weren’t sure what kind of a film it was going to be initially and then when it started to come to the light that it was kind of a genre blending piece, I definitely found that there were a lot of brothers and sisters that were excited to see our presence in that genre because the people who love zombie movies come in all shapes, sizes and colors. It’s a very integrated fan base people who love Zombies; old people, young people across all cultural lives and gender. People just love Zombies and zombie pictures so there was no shortage of love from our people given to me about the fact that I was in the picture. Oftentimes, you don’t necessarily see us, with the exception of Walking Dead obviously, but other than that, a lot of times you don’t necessarily see us. So, people were happy that me and Jovan (Adepo) are in the picture. I got positive feedback on that.

I’ve read the reviews and reactions to the film online and fans are here for this mash up of World War II history and zombies and the thrilling aspect of the allies stranded behind enemy lines. Did all of that play into what compelled you to join the cast?

Bokeem: Yes, it did. I feel as though, it’s just my own personal belief, World War II was the last truly necessary war. I don’t think all of the other conflicts were necessary. That’s just my own personal feeling but I think World War II was one of those things where it had to be done; there had to be a conflict. It was literally the forces of good versus the forces of evil. Units were not integrated. Units were segregated which I always found baffling but it was the time and it was a mentality that they had. So one of the things that compelled me to be a part of it was the fact that they’re trained in the army as an integrated one and I wanted to be a part of putting that image out there and that really spoke to me and caught my attention and compelled me to be a part of it.

Bokeem+Woodbine+WGN+America+Underground+Season+9fPp-4cyQ04l
Actor Bokeem Woodbine attends the after party for WGN America’s “Underground” Season Two Premiere Screening at Baltaire Restaurant on February 28, 2017 in Brentwood, California.
(Source: Rachel Murray/Getty Images North America)

Anytime Hollywood explores the zombie genre, I believe what’s truly being highlighted is mankind’s total loss of control over society.

Bokeem: I’ve never made that connection. I don’t want to be funny, I’m just being true. It’s probably because of where I grew up, whenever I saw zombies, to me the subtext was like they were crack heads. Like, completely lost because of some type of drug, you know what I mean? I never really looked at it as like an allegorical tale about mankind losing control and society falling apart. That’s very interesting. I just always envisioned them as a roving group of crack heads that need to be put down.

“Overlord” plays on some serious fears that many folks have with zombies. I know adults who really believe the zombie apocalypse is possible. They even have zombie survival packs and kits. So, I must ask, does the film play on any fears you have? Perhaps not specially about zombies but just on the basic need to survive by any means necessary?

Bokeem: Not so much fears but concerns that have less to do with Zombies and more to do with Nazis. The resurgence of popularity of Nazi philosophy, concepts and ideology, that is what concerns me. Certain powers that be… there seems to have been the movement towards inclusion with the Nazis and pandering towards the notion of white supremacy and trying to find some equivalency with white supremacist philosophy and just normal, regular, compassionate human philosophy, that’s what troubles me.

Nazis and white supremacists, I think they should be oppressed. They shouldn’t be out here espousing their rhetoric with the rest of us. I might sound unfair to some people but that’s what I believe and that’s what troubles me from time to time. It seems like they’re getting too much airtime; they’re getting too much opportunity to say what they want to say, and I don’t like that.

With Overlord now available for home entertainment enjoyment, tell our readers why this title should be a part of their DVD collection.

Bokeem: Well, with Overlord you get some genuine and sincere, dynamic acting performances from some people who are going to be very well-known and respected and admired. It was a lot of new talent in this film that deserves to be recognized. You also have a Maverick talented director at the helm. It’s beautifully shot; the cinematography is fantastic; we had an excellent photographer. It’s non-stop, fast-paced action and it also respects the intelligence of the audience. It has just enough humor to really make it a wonderful mixture of different genres that keeps you guessing and is well worth the money you spend to buy it. In fact, even if I wasn’t in the film, I would purchase the film. It would be in my own personal library.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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