In the new film “Clemency,” Alfre Woodard plays the weary warden of a prison who has seen too many years and too many executions on death row. In our recent interview (watch the exclusive video above), she describes her character of Bernadine Williams, “She is exacting. She has to be a person who is able to control her actions as well as her emotions. She is a person who understands the importance of protocol, and if you let little bits slip you let the whole thing unravel.”
The movie, directed and written by Chinonye Chukwu, explores the death row experience through the fictional prisoner of Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge). In our chat Woodard hopes the impact of this situation and story leads to many passionate discussions among the people who see the film. She says, “My dream is that when it opens wide… is to to have this be part of mainstream conversation. We’ve never looked at the lives of people that we charge to carry out our wishes of having executions. I want this to go to the malls. I don’t just want it in the art houses.”
The role of the warden might bring Woodard back to the Academy Awards for the first time since the 1983 movie “Cross Creek.” In our interview, she discusses the happy news of that first Oscar nomination but also the sad experience that happened to her that same morning. Woodard has won four Emmy Awards in her career among 18 nominations. A whopping 15 of those bids were for different characters, which is first among any performers for the Emmys.
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