Carmen Ejogo lights up the new film Roman J. Israel, Esq., opposite Denzel Washington“I play Maya, and I’m a young activist who works at a volunteer organization. I meet Roman because he’s looking for a job, he’s somebody who’s just lost his world. The mentor that he came up under as a lawyer is dying, so he has to find a new gig but he’s so stuck in another era that that’s going to be a challenge,” Ejogo told uInterview in an exclusive video. “He comes to meet me and I don’t really have anything to offer him, but I see in him something of myself maybe 20 years from now, and he’s very intriguing for that reason. I see somebody that has fought the good fight, that is fully passionate about their work, but has no social life and no outlet. It makes me wonder, ‘Am I in this for the right reasons? Should I stay in it?’ And also for him, he’s asking himself, ‘Is this a life of service that’s worth all the sacrifice?’ And we have this meeting of the minds, and our paths keep crossing and interconnecting throughout the movie.”

Ejogo says she was humbled by working with Washington and in awe of his process. “There’s a great moment in one of the scenes that we do together where he comes to my office for the first time and he starts to cry,” she described. “It only happened in one take but there was this really wonderful moment of just pure expression on his part that reminded me just how in complete control and fully accessible of his own wealth of talent he is, that he could go in so many different directions – we played that scene in so many different ways.”

“It’s just exciting when you see somebody at this point in their career when they could just get lazy with it all and just phone it in, frankly, but they’re still pushing hard and still trying to find new ways to play. And the character as a result is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. He’s so captivating, he’s so endearing, and I think audiences are really gonna fall in love with this character,” Ejogo added. “I have every expectation that he will be absolutely recognized for his work for this film.”

Roman J. Israel, Esq., co-starring Colin Farrell and Shelley Hennig, is in theaters now.

Full interview transcript below:

Carmen Ejogo

Q: How does your character play into Roman’s story?

A: So, I play Maya, and I’m a young activist who works at a volunteer organization. I meet Roman because he’s looking a job, he’s somebody who’s just lost his work. The mentor that he came up under as a lawyer is dying, so he has to find a new gig but he’s so stuck in another era that that’s going to be a challenge. He comes to meet me, and I don’t have anything to offer him, but I see in him something of myself, maybe twenty years for now, and he’s very intriguing for that reason. I see somebody who has fought a good fight, that’s fully passionate about their work but has no social life, has no other sort of avenues of outlet. It makes me wonder, am I in this for the right reasons? Should I stay in it? And the same for him. He’s also asking himself, is this a life of service that’s worth all the sacrifice? And so, we have this sort of meeting of minds, at parts, and at parts keep crossing and interconnecting throughout the movie.

Q: What was the most memorable moment working with Denzel?

A: Several, but there’s a great moment in one of the scenes that we do together where he comes to my office for this first time and at one point he starts crying. That only happened on one take. But it was this really wonderful moment of just pure expression on his part, that reminded me just how in complete control and fully accessible of his own wealth of talent his is that he can go in so many different directions. We played that scene so many different way, and it’s just exciting when you see somebody at this point of their career where they can just get lazy with it all and just phone it in, frankly, when they’re still pushing hard and still trying to find new ways to play. The character as a result of Roman Israel is unlike anyone you have ever seen. He is so captivating. He is so enduring, and I think audiences are really going to fall in love with this character. I have every expectation that he will absolutely recognized for his work for this film.