During our recent webcam chat (watch above), Jovan Adepo admits to being a bit nervous acting opposite Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in the upcoming film “Fences.” “These two are giants of our industry,” he divulges, “so I definitely had a level of nerve and intimidation, just because I think that was my way of showing them respect.” The actor makes his feature film debut in this adaptation of August Wilson‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning play as Cory, a teenage boy in 1950s America who feuds with his father, Troy (Washington), about the direction his life will take.
Adepo, best know for his role as Michael Murphy on HBO’s “The Leftovers,” was a new addition to the cast, which also included Stephen McKinley Henderson, Russell Hornsby, and Mykelti Williamson, that had performed these roles on Broadway to great success in 2010 (Washington and Davis won Tonys for their performances). “Once I had found out that I had gotten the role and we got to Pittsburgh, you could see right away that it was like a family reunion,” he recalls, “which is even more intimidating.” Yet from the first reading of the script, “I completely felt at home and felt like I was apart of this family.”
He describes Cory as a young man who is, “desperate to find himself, and find his purpose in life in this time, in the 1950s in Pittsburgh, where it’s kind of a set regiment of what you’re going to become.” Yet he, “wants to have a grander life, and wants to see how far he can go, but he’s caught in-between his idea of success and his father’s idea for himself.”
Adepo reveals that Washington, who also helmed this adaptation, told the cast that, “‘No matter what we go through as our characters throughout this story, it needs to come from a root of love.'” He reveals, “it took me a minute to really understand what he meant by that, because I couldn’t understand,” as an actor, “how he would want me to find a sense of love in these moments where Troy and Cory are always butting heads.” He ultimately used this to his advantage, explaining, “although as an actor I understood that there is an element of love that is always there, as Cory, I chose not to hear that.”
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