Tag Archive: antoine fuqua


We all got our ‘Uncle Denzel’ jokes in, but I’m all in.

(And you know you are too.)


I always remembered this as a fantastic soul song.  Rewatching the video for the first time in years (now as an educated film geek), my first thought was, ‘Now that is how you photograph a pair of beautiful black women with African features.’  Who directed this?

And me when I got to the credits and saw, ‘Director: Antoine Fuqua.’



How about something fun for my last post of 2011?

So 99 times out of 100 when I’m sent sides (an audition script), I can look at the product as a whole, look at where the character fits into the story, and build something from the ground up.  But there was one screen test I did this year where I had to do things a little differently…


When I first heard about the project (when Antoine Fuqua was still attached), I was actually aiming for the part of Mopreme, one of Pac’s older relatives who in the story (real and fictional) acted as his conscience.  Then word went out that there was an open call for the title role, and they wanted an ‘unknown’.  To be truthful, I was still a little hesitant (since at this point I’m older than Pac was when he was murdered), but after a few ‘Fuck That!’ conversations and reminders that every biopic I like uses this rare technique known as ‘makeup’, I decided to go in.

So now it’s a question of craft.  Creating a completely original character is one type of challenge.  But how do you create a character that based off a real person whose own persona is iconic in its own right?  We all know what Pac looked like, we know how he sounded when he talked, how he sounded when he rapped.  If you do a pitch perfect impersonation, you’re seen as an impersonator and not an actor.  But you stray too far away from the public persona, and you’re rejected for not being ‘accurate’ or ‘realistic’.  This is why playing real people, living or dead, is generally seen as the greater challenge.

So the sides went out and as a 2Pac fan I recognized it instantly from my teenage years.  You have to take me at my word when I say I didn’t rewatch this until after I did my screen test:

So I learned the words, thought about the emotions behind them (frustration) and made some choices.  Part two of the screen test was doing any Pac song that we liked.  The choice I made in that regard was to stay away from his best known videos, where again we all have an established ‘visual’ performance to go with the lyrics.  I lucked out a little since my favorite Pac song doesn’t have the ‘iconic’ video to go with it.

So my last gift for you this year, my loyal readers, is the screen test I did for ‘Tupac’.  You can judge for yourself if the choices I made ‘worked’ or if I could’ve gone farther with it.  I heard John (Singleton) is calling the shots now, so if you’ll excuse me I have to go butter up one of my fellow Trojans.

Feliz Ano Nuevo!


Brooklyn’s Finest


This morning I caught a movie I’ve been waiting for for months, Brooklyn’s Finest, and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed.  If I had to use one word to describe it, the word would be dark.  You can watch the trailer and know what type of world you’re getting into, but to watch how it all plays out, this film at times makes Training Day (also directed by Antoine Fuqua) look like Police Academy. 

The three central characters of the story are a cop played by Ethan Hawke, who willingly bends the rules to provide for his increasingly expanding family, an undercover cop played by Don Cheadle who is ready to get out of undercover work and wants his regular life back, and a retiring cop on his last week of the job, played by Richard Gere, who just wants to get to retirement without any trouble.  You don’t have to be as big of the fan of the crime genre as I am to know you’ve seen these character types; Donnie Brasco and Se7en immediately come to mind.  So as with any genre film, you judge it against how it takes these archetypes and give you an interesting take.

I thought in this case the cast of characters was stronger than the story that was told.  And is that a surprise?  Kansas City bias aside, I’d pay full price to watch Don Cheadle drink a glass of milk, he doesn’t disappoint. I’m not the first person to note the (deliberate?) similarities between the kingpin character played by Wesley Snipes here and his trademark role of Nino Brown.  The East Coast locale and type of story surely played into seeing a few familiar faces from a certain greatest TV show of all time that came on HBO and was set in Baltimore.  He looks the exact same, but the difference between Ethan Hawke’s LA cop in Training Day and his Brooklyn cop here gave me more respect for him as an actor. And much of the film revolves around Richard Gere’s character.  I think the best compliment I can give him is the man still has ‘it’: the ability to be the anchor in a ridiculously talented ensemble.  And there’s a few other ‘names’ who pop up but I won’t name who.

The crime genre (and its most lucrative subgenre, the gangster genre) have both hit that point where greatness is almost impossible to get to.  So when a film does a good job, you acknowledge how hard it was.  And Brooklyn’s Finest is a good film; worth checking out for the great acting alone.