The Netflix film “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” boasts an all-star cast featuring, Viola Davis, the late Chadwick Boseman, Coleman Domingo (Euphoria, Selma) Michael Potts (The Wire,) Glynn Turman (Fargo) and more. The film is an adaptation of the 1982 August Wilson Broadway play.
Set in 1927 on a hot Chicago afternoon, Ma Rainey (Davis) and her band; Cutler (Domingo) gather at recording studio to record some of her biggest hits. Tensions flare between Ma and her white manager, the band and Ma’s girlfriend (Taylour Paige.)
EURweb correspondent Jill Munroe talked with Domingo, Potts and Turman about the experience of filming with Boseman and the importance behind some of the film’s themes which include Black performers and their art. Creative ownership and racial tensions.
Turman on his favorite scene with Chadwick:
I like the scene where we do a little dance off. Where I challenge him and I say, ‘ni**as always looking to have a good time. He’s doing a little dance and blowing the horn and making fun of me… and Toledo just finally – and this happened in the moment as we were filming, we didn’t rehearse this – the old man (speaking of himself) says, ‘I can have a good time as much as the next man, and starts dancing… we had a good time with that moment.
Boseman died on August 28 of this year from colon cancer that he was diagnosed with four years ago.
Potts on his character Slow Drag:
What I love about him is that he loves the men in this room. He loves being in this room. He doesn’t want to be in this room. He’d like to get out of this room and out of Chicago. But he truly enjoys the camaraderie of being amongst his brothers. The four of them, and the fun they can have in this hot, claustrophobic room with egos and masculinity popping off. There’s something very fun about that.
Coleman on the important themes in the film:
I think there is something very powerful about seeing four Black men together in a room. It’s jocular, it is sincere, raw, honest. August Wilson writes the way Black people actually speak to each other, especially when white people aren’t in the room. I think it’s a beautiful way to examine Black men, and also an examination of a very fierce Black woman who is very self-possessed. She demands her worth. And I think that’s what we’ve all been fighting for… I think it really percolates in this film.
The film begins streaming on Netflix December 18.