VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Director Deon Taylor Explains Why Naomie Harris Should Win An Oscar For ‘Black And Blue’
Black and Blue is a brand new cop thriller that — as its title suggests — centers on a rookie female police officer in New Orleans who is caught between her identity as a black woman and her position as a law enforcement official who witnesses fellow cops commit murder.
Director Deon Taylor (Meet the Blacks, Traffik) discussed the movie — which stars Oscar nominee Naomie Harris (Moonlight, Spectre, Skyfall) in the title role — with uInterview exclusively. Taylor explained how the film focuses on Harris’s character inadvertently catching a fatal shooting on her body cam and the repercussions of this incident, including how the protagonist’s moral standing leads her to speak out and seek justice for this murder. However, she quickly faces opposition and rejection from both her colleagues and the community she is sworn to protect. Black and Blue marks the first time in film history that a movie is centered on a black female police officer.
“She wants to expose what she’s seen,” Taylor said of Harris’s character, Alicia West. “And the entire [police] force turns on her like, ‘yo, you can’t do that.’ But when she runs to the community, [it’s] like ‘you’re not welcome here either.”
“She begins to learn that she has to become the change,” the director added of the protagonist. “You can’t change everyone around you but you can change yourself, and what she’s fighting for is something much bigger than herself.”
In Black and Blue, Harris’s character ultimately teams up with a total stranger — a felon played by Tyrese Gibson — in order to expose the incident she witnessed after some hesitation from Gibson’s character.
Taylor praised Gibson for his “absolutely incredible” performance in the film, saying the actor’s portrayal of his character recalls his early films with late director John Singleton like Baby Boy and 2 Fast 2 Furious.
The director said he was thrilled to see audiences’ diverse reactions to his film, from cheering to covering their eyes.
“It’s on message, it’s about something, it’s about being the change and it is a fun action thriller from beginning to end,” said Taylor.
Taylor noted how the events that occur in the film are very similar to real-life incidents that have sparked the Black Lives Matter movement and a national debate on police violence against unarmed black Americans. The director revealed he was able to go on ride-alongs with seasoned officers in New Orleans in preparation for the film and learned much about the injustices and corruption that go on every day in the city’s police force.
The director also made clear that he did not intend for his new film to be overly “preachy” about police corruption, as it ultimately revolves around a black female cop. Instead, he simply meant to make the point that everyone, both law enforcement and ordinary citizens alike, should point out injustices.
“If you see something wrong, say something. Period,” said Taylor. “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or blue.”
Taylor also lauded Harris as “special” and called her “one of the best actresses of our time” before adding she deserves an Oscar nomination for her performance. The director also noted the large cultural barrier that was present between her and Gibson at first, as she is English and he is from Watts, Los Angeles. However, Taylor noted, Harris truly immersed herself in her character and the story in a “beautiful” way by taking copious notes and riding along with African-American policewomen in New Orleans in order to better understand the issues that communities in the city face.
The director also pointed to a “powerful” and “moving” scene in Black and Blue between Harris and Gibson in a convenience store that audiences were unequivocally quiet for, as was the scene itself.
“Those moments are very hard to capture in film,” said Taylor. “It’s the only quiet moment in the movie.”
Black and Blue will be released nationwide on Friday (Oct. 25).