Barry Jenkins Talks Creating Rare Scene Showcasing Black Male Vulnerability In 'Beale'

Jenkins spoke to ESSENCE about creating one of the film's most poignant scenes, featuring Brian Tyree Henry and Stephan James.
Sydney Scott Dec, 21, 2018

You won’t be able to forget this scene — because you’ve never seen anything like it.

In Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, Brian Tyree Henry and Stephan James, who portray Daniel and Fonny in the James Baldwin big screen adaptation, catch up as old friends do. But when Henry’s Daniel opens up about being wrongfully arrested, it’s a foreshadowing that even Fonny can feel.

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The film follows Fonny as he and his fianceé (Kiki Layne) struggle to raise a family despite him being arrested and falsely charged with a rape he did not commit.

“For me, it was about getting to this point where Brian and Stephan could organically break down these walls that, sometimes, Black men, all men, these walls that we put up between each other because we don’t want to show another man our true most vulnerable selves,” Jenkins told ESSENCE of crafting the scene.

The Oscar winner said his cast made it easy to create such magic onscreen, especially since Henry was a “Baldwin zealot,” who knew how to “peel back these layers” while filming.

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“[Brian] understood that character backwards and forwards,” Jenkins added. “And he also understood its role in the course of the narrative.”

If Beale Street Could Talk hits theaters nationwide December 25.