'Detroit' Stars Algee Smith And Jason Mitchell Share Why Biopics Are Extra Challenging 

The actors talked to us about their new thrilling movie and the challenges of playing real-life men.

Tanya Christian Aug, 02, 2017

Algee Smith (The New Edition Story) and Jason Mitchell (Straight out of Compton) are no strangers to biopics. They’ve both successfully taken on musical icons from the past and received acclaim for doing so. In Detroit, Smith, 22 and Mitchell, 30 play two significant characters present at the Algiers Motel, in Kathryn Bigelow’s film adaptation of the 1967 urban uprising that devastated the Midwestern city. ESSENCE spoke to the men about their roles and the kind of characters they hope to take on in the future. 

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Both of you guys have already played like a musical figure from history. I know you are [UNKNOWN] then you edition a movie and you did ECE. What is it like playing someone else. Do you think its easier or harder? For me it's definitely harder because it is like if I would, I would never Play you. [LAUGH] It's like, if I were to play you, I have to completely study you, and know every single way you move, the way you might make a gesture when you say certain things, I have to get that down to a tee. With doing other characters that aren't real, you get to kind of create that yourself, and put them in a world, and give them those things. Right. So it makes it way harder Ya definitely you know because at the end of the day, the family is the hardest critic. You know what I mean? But we trying to do them the biggest justice, you know, they got stripped of their children. We need a face to put to this tragedy, you know what I mean? That within itself would be like I don't know, but ain't no internet nothing to look up on these dudes. You know what I mean. They don't know. All they go is I be so happy. If you got it right, you're like. [INAUDIBLE] It's definitely tough. [INAUDIBLE], I don't know if anybody else has told you this, but in the movie, I was getting [INAUDIBLE] when he was doing, Why Do Fools Fall in Love by [INAUDIBLE] and I know you have a Musical background. So were you happy to sharpen your skills as a musical talent in this? I've definitely been happy with the past two projects I've been on. I feel like it's just has been a blessing. I've been able to do both of what I love to do in one project, [LAUGH] and I won't be mad at that [UNKNOWN] comparison. [LAUGH] He had a nice [LAUGH] took away from the- Yeah, he was doing his thing. I'll take the Will Smith one too, you know. [LAUGH] Right. Slow down. Did you say Will Smith? [LAUGH] [CROSSTALK] If you guys could play any character from his movies, who would it be? You know what? I want to be involved with doing a bunch of projects That highlight black inventors. The people who made the refrigerator, who made the lights, things that we use. The flat iron, the ironing board. [CROSSTALK] Being involved in those, telling those stories, that would make me happy. I don't think I ever asked myself this question. [UNKNOWN] If I could play anybody, for real. It would probably be Floyd Mayweather. Okay. ohhh. And I know he's still razzling and dazzling in our time right now, but I mean, I have seen him doing some amazing things, you know what I mean? He's got one of the most militant minds that I have ever seen on a person, I'm just being honest.