*Wow! Imagine if we all had the inclination and skill to write a script about our own family and turn it into a movie.
Think about it: All the dysfunction (and you know you’ve got that in your family too!); all the drama, an opportunity to say all the things we never say, but want to.
Well, writer Charles Murray did just that. He wanted to write about what he knew; so he took that inclination a step further, utilized his skill and channeled his creativity to develop “Things Never Said,” a movie inspired by his family and their drama. Here, the writer shares some insight on the “inspired dynamics” of his family.
“What I knew was my family. What I learned, as I learned how to write, was how to make my family into a movie… into a story. Into one of the many stories I’ve been dying to tell. My mother has reached legendary status in terms of the stories told in our family. When she was 16 she beat up an entire family – of 16 (father included). When she was 18 she had to go and nurse my grandfather back to health after his entire second family was poisoned with arsenic. When she was an adult one of her boyfriend’s kidnapped her and tried to kill her. And still, she stood tall and fought back. She never became a prisoner and she didn’t take any either….Through the recounting of family stories, I came to know my family and myself more deeply.”– Charles Murray, Writer/Producer/Director of ‘Things Never Said’
The film, which opens today (Friday, September 6) in Los Angeles, stars Shanola Hampton as Kalindra “Kal” Stepney (inspired by Murray’s mother). She is an artist who has lost her way and is in an unhappy marriage to Ronnie, her angry husband, played by Elimu Nelson (inspired by Murray’s dad). Kal yearns to perform on New York’s most acclaimed spoken word stage.
In the midst of all of her drama, she finds herself vulnerable and in need of an outlet for expression. Then she meets and falls in love with “Curtis Jackson” played by one of our favorite actors, Omari Hardwick. EURweb’s Lee Bailey caught up with Omari, who we have learned from past experience will never disappoint when it comes to providing great acting and insightful conversation. In this interview, Omari says he is playing a character he has never been asked to play before and it is challenging him in a most beautiful way. Here, the actor shares his feelings about playing the role of “a shoulder to cry on” for Kal.
“For me Lee, it was nice man … to be even allowed to play, for lack of a better term, this simple character who could sort of just be as dichotomous and complex behind closed doors as he was. For her he was just this simple, therapeutic character that she could really find healing and find a place of refuse.”
Hardwick is admittedly excited that his fans and those who have followed his work can see him in this type of role, where he was able to pull from his own personal experiences.
“I’ve definitely lived enough to play certain roles, and this role is not short of me being able to pull from different experiences that I’ve had. Obviously the poetry; obviously I have loved and have tried to love a woman that hasn’t loved [me] back and you know, have experienced what it means to lose and be confused and be troubled…I’ve been all those colors… and that was a stretch for me … But the other part, Lee, is that I haven’t been able to play that.”
To further explain this or reiterate his point, Omari provides a sports analogy for us to chew on.
“You see Michael [Jordan) and Kobe [Bryant]do something so many times that it becomes second nature, but there are other things that they haven’t necessarily been asked to do. Michael for instance, playing a different type of role when he went to the Washington Wizards than we ever saw when he went to the Chicago Bulls. So if I could compare the two this would be like me going to the Wizards in that I’ve never, even if the colors are in Omari, I’ve never had the opportunity, prior, to exercise that muscle.”
Omari is such a deep thinker. Each time we’ve talked with him its nothing like an interview, it’s an intellectual dialogue; and this time was no different. When LB says, “at this point in your career you are confident enough to play anything,” and he answers “yes,” Hardwick lends his answer to the fact that many in the black-brown-yellow and red Diaspora of humanity have grown up in a poverty mentality. And with that mindset he adds,
“We get on first base and we play it safe. And obviously, its apparent that those of us who have broken away and followed a dream are not necessarily living safely. But ironically, once we’re in that dream, we still, at times, dream safely and so you go ‘I’m really good at this character and I think I’ll just go on and play right here.’”
But Omari adds that he believes the difference between him and many of his peers is that he’s really risky; probably because he had a father in the home, and though that father would “challenge” him and provide “constructive criticism,” he would “equally kiss me on the cheek and tell me when it was all good.”
These ingredients in parenting is what he credits his level of confidence and security in the roles he portrays to.
Bailey recognizes that Hardwick goes from one deep project to the next in his films and asks if this is intentional; or if he would look forward to doing a comedy. The actor in essence says ‘yes’ and that he looks forward to getting the opportunity and feels confident that it’s coming. In fact, Hardwick refers to a football player role he is about to take on and says he will play the character “comical.”
“I am really trying to slowly and subtlety graduate to that place that Bobby DeNiro was able to go to and it was all good. Sometimes things are too severe for the Black actor in terms of the scripts we get because the black community is begging us to tell a story in a particular way that’s not necessarily funny because we’ve been able to be funny forever and now a lot of us are wanting, from the actors that they like…wanting us to tell a story in a particular way. But as soon as I get to play (makes superhero sound) ‘Duh-ta-daaa’ jumping through the air and playing the things that Will Smith gets to do, I can’t wait to talk to you about that stuff ‘cause that’s what everybody wants.”
Funny, when Bailey tells Omari he will be waiting anxiously to see him in these comedic roles, the actor laughs and laughs and says,
“And when that happens, I will be answering your questions a lot lighter!”
That Omari Hardwick, what a guy!
Check out a clip of the film here:
“Things Never Said,” starring Shanola Hampton, Omari Hardwick, Elimu Nelson, Tamala Jones, Dorian Missick, Tom Wright, Charlayne Woodard, and Michael Beach opens today, September 6, in Los Angeles. Additional openings in Boston, Atlanta, Washington, DC and Merriville Indiana (Chicago) coming soon. It will also be released on DVD in December.
For more information visit: www.ThingsNeverSaid.com.