Netflix’s She’s Gotta Have It has been one of the most buzzed about shows of the year. Spike Lee’s adaptation of his 1988 hit film brings the story of Nola Darling and her three lovers to a brand new audience and sees a new cast picking up iconic roles.
One of those actors is Cleo Anthony, who plays the self-absorbed photographer Greer Childs. Anthony spoke to ESSENCE about bringing Greer to life, Marvel villains, and landing a role in Bad Boys II.
Here are five things to know about Cleo Anthony.
1. The actor really went deep into figuring out his character: Those of you who have already binged She’s Gotta Have It may simply sum him up as a self-obsessed photographer—obsessed enough to call out his own name during sex—but to Anthony, Greer is a guy who “never really fit in anywhere.” Anthony’s breakdown of his character includes a fraught relationship with his dad and just being “a European guy in Brooklyn,” who isn’t quite getting the culture. “He’s not used to hearing ‘no,'” Anthony said. “And he’s not used to not getting things to end up his way.”
2. On Greer’s relationship with Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise): Anthony’s take is that Nola’s a woman he can’t quite figure out, which is why he’s so interested in being with her. “I [Greer] got women and she’s got guys, alright. But, more I’m wondering why she’s not like other women. Why she’s not calling me all the time, why she’s not blowing up my phone. I’m curious about that and what makes her a different person and also why I’m so interested in someone who’s completely opposite of all the women that I’ve been interested in before. So, that’s more my take.”
3. The little black dress scene between Greer and Nola was as emotional to film as it was to watch: Spoiler alert! The scene shows Nola being photographed by Greer after being harassed by a man on the street. As the shoot continues Nola becomes more and more agitated. Anthony says his jaw dropped when Wise as Nola began lashing out. “I was like, wow! I just sat there trying to take in what is going on because I was at a loss. I actually told her that was amazing. Her reaction, her response, her energy, that was amazing.”
4. She’s Gotta Have It is a dream come true for Anthony, but there is one role he wishes he would have gotten also: “The villain in Aquaman, I wanted badly. I knew the character, I read about him, I figured him out,” Anthony said. “And I thought, ‘Alright, my iteration of him, he’ll be tweaked, just a little too tweaked. Like he’s beyond basic reality.’ So I did that and I didn’t get it. I didn’t get it.”
5. Anthony was briefly homeless before landing a role in Bad Boys II: The actor says he grew up watching Will Smith, which is why he pursued the profession. Later, Anthony moved to Miami, where he was homeless before being discovered by a modeling agent. A spur of the moment decision to drop by his agency as he was walking around Miami led to a small role in Bad Boys II. “I walk in and say hey to everybody and [my agent] looks up and says, ‘Cleo, you want to be in Bad Boys 2?’ And, I just said yes. It was a background role, I was an extra, but I was in it. You turn on the movie and I’m in Bad Boys.”