Wendell Pierce Interview: ‘Jack Ryan’
“I wanted to be authentic,” actor Wendell Pierce tells Gold Derby in an exclusive interview (watch the video above) about playing a CIA station chief in Amazon’s “Jack Ryan” starring John Krasinski. Pierce spoke with a a retired station chief to prepare for his role as James Greer and recalls, “Very bluntly, I asked him, with the relationship between the African-American community and the CIA in the past […] how did he feel about being an African-American man in the CIA and he said, ‘Well, the same way I feel about being an American — this country hasn’t been treating us fair at times, so you fight racism and you fight inequity wherever you are and I just chose to fight it within the CIA instead of outside of it.” Pierce explains, “That really opened up the doors for me into understanding how to play it” and says that this mindset also helped him approach portraying his character’s Muslim faith.
If nominated for Best Drama Supporting Actor at the Emmys this summer, Pierce will submit his work in the episode “Sources and Methods” under director Carlton Cuse for consideration. He explains, “It clearly epitomizes James Greer in the entire season for me and some of my best work, not only as James Greer in ‘Jack Ryan,’ but some of my best work of my career.” This is a weighty claim particularly in this “momentous year” for Pierce, which has included a Best Actor win at the Tribeca Film Festival for “Burning Cane,” leading the Sundance Film Festival’s best-picture winner “Clemency” and his British stage debut in “Death of a Salesman.” Pierce reflects, “It’s a beautiful kismet, a beautiful coming-together of all the aspects of my career and this year is truly a zenith.”
With the release of the second season “a couple of months” away, Pierce offers this tease: “People will assume that it was recently written, but we are so keyed into geopolitics of today that we actually wrote these storylines before the geopolitics that are actually happening right now, so it was a vision of the creators that they had the foresight to see where the politics of the world were going to go and where we are now. When we premiere, people are going to be surprised that this was shot last year and not last week. They’ll be pleasantly surprised how we were on the vanguard of what’s happening in the world.”