Will Smith said he hopes the “brutal” depictions of slavery in his upcoming film Emancipation are “not in vain”.
The 54-year-old Hollywood actor, who plays prison escaped slave Peter in the film, said it was one of the “toughest” projects he’s taken on in his more than 30 years as an actor.
The film tells the story behind an infamous image known as “The Whipped Peter” that shows the scar on a slave’s back after he escaped from a Louisiana plantation in the 1860s.
The image was spread by the abolitionist movement during the American Civil War and published worldwide.
Smith attended the European premiere of Emancipation at the Vue West End in London on Friday.
When asked about why he thinks this famous image hasn’t been explored in depth before this film, Smith told PA news agency: “We (African Americans) don’t want to see ourselves depicted. in that way.
“So every time these stories come out, it’s a massive emotional and psychological confrontation.
“That image of ‘Peter being whipped’ is brutal, however, my hope is that it’s not brutal, in vain.”
He also said he hopes it will open up audiences to “compassion, empathy, and a deeper level of understanding.”
When asked about why he thinks it’s a story about freedom and not slavery, Smith added: “What I connect with in this story is that Peter’s body is enslaved. tears, but his mind is always liberated. He was never a slave in his mind.
He also said during the premiere that there is a “strong message” for today’s audience.
“It sheds light on some of the psychological patterns that lead to the brutality of the slave trade, and I hope it sheds some light on some of the same patterns that are beginning to emerge in the United States today,” he told PA. grand.
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He also said, “It’s really hard, being called the N word 100 times a day by really good actors.
“It is difficult for everyone to go back to some painful ideas and painful moments in American history. “
This is Smith’s first big-screen project since he stormed onto the Oscars stage and slapped Chris Rock after the comedian commented on his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Smith later apologized to Rock and the Academy for the incident, but the individual was barred from attending any Academy events or programs for 10 years.
In a recent interview with Washington DC’s Fox affiliate, Fox 5, he was asked what he would say to those who thought it was “too early” for him to return.
Smith replied, “The people on this team have done some of the best work throughout their careers, and my deepest hope is that my actions don’t affect my team.”
At the London premiere, Smith received praise from his co-stars for helping with the difficult doc and his amazing personality.
U.S. Office star David Denman said Smith was “generous and kind” throughout the film along with being “very cooperative” when he played Confederate General William Dwight.
Zimbabwean-Australian actress Charmaine Bingwa, who plays Dodienne, Smith’s wife, said Smith will “always make things lighter” on set while she has to work with the “heavy” kind of documentary. physically and mentally”.
While X-Men: The Last Stand actor Ben Foster, who plays slave owner Fassel in the film, also said: “You can feel Will Smith on set before you hear him speak. It’s just, he has a deep resonance.
“I’ve been a huge fan of his, have been for decades and he’s done the most amazing work.”
Emancipation will be released in UK cinemas in December.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/movies/will-smith-hopes-brutality-of-slavery-in-emancipation-is-not-in-vain-42192452.html Will Smith hopes the ‘brutal’ of slavery in Emancipation was ‘not in vain’