hill harper (concussion)

*As previously reported, Electronic Urban Report/EUR spoke to veteran actor Hill Harper about playing the role of NFL executive Christopher Jones in “Concussion.

Hill dished on the motivations of his character and the heroic sacrifice of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who fought against efforts by National Football League to suppress his research on the brain damage suffered by professional football players.

Directed by Peter Landesman, and based on the 2009 GQ exposé Game Brain by Jeanne Marie Laskas, the film opens December 25, one of the biggest times for movie ticket sales. We asked Hill what makes “Concussion” the perfect film to go see Christmas day.

“Will Smith’s performance,” he said without hesitation. “I think it’s the best performance of his career, if not the best performance of the year, in any film.  What we want to see during the holidays are stories about courage, stories that embolden and empower us, that don’t denigrate us and put us down. Seeing Dr. Bennet Omalu’s story inspires me to want to be a better man. It inspires me to want to do more selfless acts, to make the world a better place, and I think that fits with the holiday spirit.”

Harper is the author of the bestselling inspirational ‘Letters’ book series, his most recent, “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother: Encouragement, Hope, and Healing for Inmates and Their Loved Ones,” takes on the issue of mass incarceration in the United States.

We asked Hill what vision of black America is he hoping to help shape with the life changing ‘Letters’ books.

“The ‘Letters’ books are about empowerment of the individual, and building from the ground up. Sometimes you turn on the television and see these talking heads. They’re always talking about policy, and all that’s wonderful and necessary but in many ways, it leaves out the individual – that young man who, the policy to change his school system didn’t work – and he’s on the corner right now.

Hill continued:

“He needs to be inspired, empowered and given a way to grow and learn and build. Certainly we want the policy changes to come, but some of us have to step into the individual and try to help empower and inspire the individual. That’s what I hope the ‘Letters’ books do. Those books are all about the individual and individual empowerment.”

While Will Smith’s character in “Concussion” certainly aims to empower and encourage policy change as well, Hill told us that his character “does his best to lie for the NFL.”

We asked Hill if part of the goal with this film is to help shape the NFL into a league more concerned with safety.

“Absolutely, but it’s not just the NFL, it’s any type of sport where there’s any type of head trauma activity,” he explained. “For instance, the youth soccer league just last week banned heading of the soccer ball for children under 12. We don’t want people using their head to play sports – no matter what kind of sport it is because the brain floats around inside of our skull for a reason, and when you subject it to trauma, there’s danger. Many people spent a lot of money to cover that information up, and they did it because they felt that their money interest was more important than the safety of the individual. It’s just like big tobacco, we need to tell the truth and we need to make changes based off the truth.”