Although its story is set in the past, Mary J. Blige finds the film “Mudbound” to be especially prescient to today. During our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above) she declares, “It’s very important, just to start conversations about what’s happening, what’s being said right now, and why do we have this opportunity? This opportunity is so we can learn to love each other.” Directed by Dee Rees, this Netflix original follows two World War II veterans – one white (Garrett Hedlund) and one black (Jason Mitchell) – who return home to work with their respective families on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and PTSD. Blige plays Florence Jackson, mother to one of the soldiers.
The actress describes her character as “a very strong woman,” but also, “a different kind of woman” from modern times. Women in the 1940s “had to be more silent and powerful than boisterous. You see everything on her face. She’s really full of expression. She’s a powerful, silent woman, and she’s got a lot of love in her.” Blige based Florence on women in her own life, particularly her aunt: “When I was a kid, my mom would send us down South every summer, and I saw this woman. I knew this woman very well.”
Blige is a nine-time Grammy winner and a Golden Globe nominee for her original song from “The Help” (2011). In addition to starring in “Mudbound,” she also penned the original tune “Mighty River.” Blige has already been recognized by the Gotham Awards with a Breakthrough Actor nomination and at the Hollywood Film Awards with a win for Best Breakout Actress
“Mudbound” will be released worldwide on Netflix and in select theaters on November 17. The ensemble cast also features Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jonathan Banks, and Rob Morgan.
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