After her first directorial debut since pledging that her future productions will consist of 50% women, Regina King is also getting candid about actors from different nations taking on international roles, specifically honing in on British stars acting in American roles.
During an eye-opening BAFTA Masterclass, per Deadline, King explained how someone’s home nation has no real effect on their ability to portray a role as long as they’re invested in their character to ensure that the switch is wholly convincing.
Nationalities Do Not Matter
Speaking from London on January 12, King said that, “If I was moved by a performance, I really don’t care where a person’s from.”
The director spoke specifically about British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir, who took up the role of Malcolm X in her recent film “One Night In Miami,” and Canadian actor Eli Goree, who also stars in the film as Muhammad Ali.
She said that their work in the film to convincingly portray American pop culture icons despite being from other nations is commendable.
“As an audience member, to me they truly understood what they were doing, what they were embodying. After Kingsley’s first audition, I wanted to give him some notes,” she explained of the early encounter with Kingsley.
“I wanted to just talk to him and get to know him and get to know what his relationship was to Malcolm. He said all the things that I needed to hear him say and I think it’s unfortunate that this is where we are.”
‘Colorism Is The Same In All Of Those Places’
King continued by saying that, “One of the things that I’ve truly understood or discovered throughout this process of ‘One Night in Miami,’ is that upon first receiving this and reading it, I thought, ‘Wow, Kemp, this is just a love letter to the black man’s experience in America.’ But then taking that step back and really taking in marginalised people across the world. There are feelings and experiences that black people in the UK, in Brazil feel that are the same as in America. While the history of how a country came to be may be different, the marginalisation of a black man is the same, colorism is the same in all of those places.”
Sealing The Deal
She concluded with an overall statement defending Kingsley’s role once again and the overall placement of international stars in American films.
“Kingsley was the best actor for that role and Eli was the best actor for that role. Sure, neither one of them are American,” she concluded by saying, “But can they relate to the experience and the pain felt by a black person for being disregarded just because of the colour of your skin? Absolutely, they can. Can they take it upon themselves to make sure they educate themselves on the ways it’s specific to America in the history of how black Americans had built this country, it was built on the bodies of black Americans? They can definitely educate themselves on that and they did. I wouldn’t change my choices for anyone.”