When actor Aldis Hodge signed up to portray Brian Banks, a former top high school football player who was falsely imprisoned on rape charges in the upcoming film of the same name, he didn’t think that he would walk away with a greater understanding of brotherhood.

However, as he shared with the audience from Center Stage on Friday at Essence Festival, Hodge learned exactly that and then some while working through one scene in particular.

In a scene where Banks had discovered new evidence that would help prove his innocence (before learning that it would be inadmissible in court,) Hodge said was struck with a flurry of emotions that overwhelmed him.

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“I remember that day. Brian and I talked about it and we went through the motions of what that was like for him to experience that,” he shared to the crowd of festivalgoers.

“For me, it was really special because we had really bonded up until that point, but this kind of got raw and we’re two dudes sitting in a hallway on some stairs talking and crying together, going through the pain, going through the struggle, going through the triumph, the courage that it takes to get to this place,” Hodge added.

It was not entirely lost on Hodge that while that level of vulnerability may have caught him off guard, it’s something that is not seen often enough in society.

“It taught me a moment about brotherhood that I don’t think we’re exposed enough to see Black men come together about a hard problem, helping each other out, helping each other get through it, and that’s what I love about that moment,” he recalled.

Brian Banks, also starring Sherri Shepherd, is in theaters this August.

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