“To be honest I think it would have been more pressure if I’d worked with him 10 or 20 years ago when I wasn’t maybe ready. But I felt ready for this one,” said Carmen Ejogo about taking on the challenge of starring opposite Denzel Washington in the new legal drama “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” “I felt ready because I really understood the character. I feel I sort of earned this moment to get to go on-screen and play with Denzel.” Ejogo discussed the film along with Washington and director Dan Gilroy during an event for press and industry on November 19. Watch her above.
Ejogo plays Maya Alston, an idealistic activist who is starting to doubt the value of her work when she meets Roman (played by Washington), a veteran civil rights lawyer and a savant who is also experiencing a crisis of conscience. “He was so generous from the start in terms of what he had to offer as an actor in the room,” Ejogo explained about working with Washington. “And the writing on the page was so truthful that I knew I felt it in my gut. There was an authenticity there. There wasn’t anything forced.”
Ejogo is perhaps best known for playing Coretta Scott King in both the 2001 HBO telefilm “Boycott” and the 2014 film “Selma.” She also appeared in the “Harry Potter” prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” as Seraphina Picquery. But “Roman J. Israel” was a unique challenge because of the nature of his character: “I think you would describe the character as being on the spectrum and maybe a savant of some kind, so there was a lack of eye contact at times, which was very interesting,” she said. “I’ve never had to deal with that as somebody you’re working against. It’s a really interesting dynamic.”
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