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The Core of his Success


London-born actor Delroy Lindo has certainly made a name for himself across the acting spectrum. He has stretched from Broadway to television to film, playing a wide range of larger-than-life characters. Some of his most memorable roles include, the numbers boss West Indian Archie in Malcolm X, the patriarch Woody Carmichael in Crooklyn, Detective Roland Castlebeck in Gone in 60 Seconds and drug dealer Rodney Little in Clockers. Lindo, of Jamaican heritage, credits his acting skills to his diverse upbringing, having lived in London, Canada and the United States in his youth. “Having moved around as much as I have in my life, I’d like to think it gives me an added kind of dimension or experience to bring to the work that I do as an actor, “ says Lindo. “I think ultimately my life has been an advantage.”

This month the talented actor banks screen time with Academy award-winning actress Hillary Swank in the suspense thriller, The Core. Lindo plays Dr. Ed “Braz” Brazzelton, a scientist who has lived and worked secluded in the desert for nearly 20 years, when he is approached to join a special operation at the earth’s core. The earth has stopped rotating, causing its magnetic field to rapidly deteriorate. The result: random world disasters — the collapse of the Golden Gate Bridge, destruction of the Roman Coliseum and electrical super storms.

Lindo and Swank are part of a diverse team of terranauts (deep earth explorers) — scientist, military personnel and regular Joes — brought together to save the world from this natural disaster. Ultimately, it is Brazzelton’s invention and sacrifice that helps ensure the safety of the Earth. “I had a good time {with this film}” says Lindo. “I am proud of what I was able to do with the character.”

We caught up with Lindo and chatted about his new movie The Core, what his ideal role is, and in what genre he prefers to work.

You’ve played a variety of roles, but your character in The Core, Dr. Brazzleton, seems a departure from your usual roles. Is this part a departure for you?

In my career, I’ve tried to do a range of things — different kinds of roles. {So}] in that sense it’s not a departure, just another character that is different from the ones I’ve played before. {But} from the standpoint that it’s a scientist, it is a departure because I’ve never played a scientist before.

What drew you to this part?

I thought the characters overall were well written, even though the character they wanted me to play was underwritten. I met with the director {Jon Amiel} and let him know how I felt and we agreed on how I could go about fleshing the character out.

What changes did you make to add more depth to Dr. Brazzelton.

{In} the first draft of the screenplay I read, there were pages and pages of dialogue going on in which there was no reference made to Brazzelton whatsoever. And I said to the director, ‘Where is Brazzelton?’ It is his ship, he built it, he had the expertise, and he was the one with the prototype. There were pages of dialogue in which the other terranauts were making decisions about how to respond to a given crisis and making decisions about how the ship should function and Brazzelton just wasn’t there. And it didn’t make sense to me. {Director}] Jon Amiel agreed, and we set about inserting Brazzelton more actively into the scenes on the ship, {and} we changed dialogue. But in the edited version, unfortunately for me, a good portion of those {changes} is no longer there.

So if you could pick the outtakes off the editing floor, what would you insert into the film?

From the very first scene, in which the character seems to be exhibiting a certain amount of uncertainty and skepticism as to why these men have come to me and what they really want. I felt that to go from that stance to almost immediately showing them all of my work — I have been laboring in the desert for 20 years alone — the decision was too easy. And then there was a scene in which I asked Richard Jenkins character (General Thomas Purcell) {to put}] in writing that what I was being told was real, and {that} I wanted a contract signed to protect my work. And all of those scenes are gone. And consequently, watching the film, the character just relents too easily. It’s not quite realistic to me as an audience member. I am initially showing this hesitancy or uncertainty or skepticism towards these men and in almost the next frame, I am showing them my work. It just doesn’t seem real to me.

Looking back at the film — especially now that we are in the midst of war—how does it feel that your character made the ultimate sacrifice for his country?

This movie is entertainment. It’s a popcorn movie. I think it’s important {at least}] for me to see the film in that context and not try to make any larger connections, because it is what it is. But certainly I want the audience to go to the movie and enjoy it. From the standpoint of the sacrifice that the character makes — it’s interesting because the director came to me and said this is a very heroic thing that the character does and audience members who have seen the film have mentioned that. Believe it or not, it’s not something I have thought about in those terms. But I guess you are right, it is a very heroic thing to do.

You’ve done television, film and Broadway; is there a particular genre that you prefer?

It’s difficult for me to answer that question. I like television the least, just because it tends to be so fast. I always have the scene that doesn’t have enough time to be done the way it needs to. I come from the theater and I love the theater. The first 10 years of my career I worked almost exclusively in the theater. It’s really hard to compare theater and film — they are very different mediums. But I can say that, {although}] I am concentrating on my film career now, I certainly always want to return to the theater because I love it. I need the theater for a certain kind of substance.

What projects do you have waiting in the wings? Is there any role that you’d really like to play?

I did do one other film after The Core and that’s being released in May in Europe. It’s called Wondrous Oblivion and it’s about a Jamaican family that moves next door to a Jewish family in London in 1960. The film {is about} the interaction and the relationship that evolves between the two families. As far as I know, it does not have an American distributor, so I have no idea when it will be released here. In a perfect world, if I had a script about Marcus Garvey sitting on my desk right now that was ready to go, I’d love to be able to do that. I think the story of Marcus Garvey is an incredibly important epic.