Garcelle Beauvais is no stranger to working with some of Hollywood's most celebrated leading men. In her latest project, Beauvais stars alongside Denzel Washington in Flight, an experience she describes as exciting and challenging.
"You really want to up your game when you're working with somebody like that," she says. Later on this year, the Haitian-American actress will reunite with Jamie Foxx in White House Down, where she will play First Lady. She spoke with ESSENCE.com to talk about her experience working with Washington, how Franklin and Bash saved her life, her on-screen reunion with Foxx and why she was so nervous on Election Day.
ESSENCE.com: What was it like working with Denzel Washington? Was it everything that women dream of?
Garcelle Beauvais: Yes, and then some. It was surreal, exciting, and challenging. He was generous and sweet and came to play when he came to work. It was great.
ESSENCE.com: The movie is really about Denzel's character's personal struggle. Can you relate to the film's message of overcoming addiction?
Beauvais: Oh, yeah. I think what resonates with people is the fact that you know people like that or you may have struggled yourself. I think it's really about one acknowledging that you have a problem and really see it and work with it. And I think for him, he didn't think he had a problem but as the movie went on you see all the things he sacrificed because of this demon he's fighting. [Denzel] played it beautifully.
ESSENCE.com: You recently expressed shock that you wouldn't be returning to Franklin and Bash. What happened?
Beauvais: Yeah, I was really shocked because I loved it, and it was fun. But, you know what, the show also came to me at a time that I needed it most because I was going through a lot of stuff personally. So, it saved my life in a way. I was grateful and had a blast with them. God is good, I'm sure it will all be fine.
ESSENCE.com: You also have a new movie coming out next year where you star alongside Jamie Foxx and you are set to play the First Lady.
Beauvais: Yeah, we are shooting it right now. It is called White House Down, and it's with Jamie, Channing Tatum and Roland Emmerich, the director. I am pretty excited about it. It is definitely the opposite of Flight, in terms that it is a big action movie, and it's much more of a summer movie.
ESSENCE.com: What was it like reuniting with Jamie Foxx? Did it bring back any memories from working on The Jamie Foxx Show?
Beauvais: It did. We had to do a photo shoot for the film, and it was like time had never passed. We were on the set, cracking up, telling jokes. He's the best. I love working with him.
ESSENCE.com: What have you learned from Michelle Obama to help you prepare for the role?
Beauvais: Um, everything! Plus the elegance, intelligence — I could go on forever. The woman is a class act, and I hope I can do it justice.
ESSENCE.com: Have you ever met her?
Beauvais: No, I met Barack [Obama] years ago at the NACCP Image Awards before he became President but I hadn't met Michelle at the time.
ESSENCE.com: How was your Election Day experience?
Beauvais: Stressful! I was watching the polls, and I was nervous so I kept turning it off. It was a lot of red, but then I didn't want to miss anything so I turned it back on. It was insane. I am so happy the outcome is what it is!