Inspired by the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks, “Blue Caprice” tells of a young man Lee (Taquan Richmond) who is taken under the wing of an unconventional and damaging father-figure, John (Isaiah Washington) who trains the boy to shoot, kill and cause chaos without regret. Carly Dennis spoke exclusively to Washington about the confronting and powerful drama for it’s DVD and Blu-ray release.
Blue Caprice is such an unrelenting in film in terms of it’s brutally honest portrayal of the human condition and manipulative relationships, what was it like getting into such a dark character as John Muhammad?
It was very difficult coming out of it. There wasn’t much time to think about it because we had to shoot very hard and fast and furiously as an independent film with limited funding. But that was all part of the fun, the intrigue and the excitement as an artist to see if I could pull this off. To pull this off as well with someone as commercially new to this scene [as Alexandre Moors, director of Blue Caprice – his first feature film). I was very impressed with his work with a video he did – a collaboration with Kanye West called Runaway – and it just really spoke to me. It reminded of my earlier guerrilla film making days with Spike Lee, and how [Lee] would approach the work with so much passion. I was just blown over by his [Moors] artistry and his passion and excitement about telling a metaphorical story about a very toxic and corrupt father and son relationship. It’s about what happens metaphorically when someone is following such a corrupt leader and when the leadership is corrupt what can happen. That was the story he wanted to tell, inspired by the horrific events that occurred twelve years ago, the DC sniper. We weren’t making a biopic, though we based the events of the film based on actual events we knew we were telling a story that had much, much larger reach than just a simple biography. We weren’t interested in doing that.
Is there anything you hope, personally, that audiences will take away from this film?
I don’t dictate what the audience takes from the film. It’s a piece of art so, so whatever someone takes away from it – it’s all open.
Art is always open to interpretation.
Well [Laughs] if someone were to walk away from this film feeling happy then I’d probably think that they’re not all there themselves.
You have several incredibly heavy scenes with your fellow star Tequan (Tu-Kwon) Richmond, was it difficult making the switch from such an aggressive character?
No. I mean we were so short on time and we would come to work in the morning and we would work fast and have to be very productive. And it was challenging for us, and for him, but we all care about him [Richmond].
On a more personal note, what did you think of John’s treatment of his children in the film? Being a father yourself do you feel you brought more depth to an already complex character?
Absolutely! That’s the only connecting thing that I could do, the only similarity was the fact that I’m a father. Which is not a lot, but still when you agree to do a major motion picture [Laughs] that was the point of the excitement. I was working completely against the way I am. It was fresh it was new. It’s like wearing an outfit or putting on a pair of shoes that you thought you would never wear and then the moment you do everyone’s like “whoa you look great in that!” [Laugh].
Obviously with ”Caprice”, and other upcoming projects you must have been quite busy, do you get to visit Sierra Leone much lately?
No, no unfortunately once I got back into shooting, into the business I didn’t have that time. But to get back to the village would be great and everything but there’s so much going on here in LA. Now that I’m here I’ve really got to commit, and people are asking me to come on and produce so something as relevant and powerful as Blue Caprice can continue. Hopefully my story works so in a couple of years I can establish myself as a producer, which I’m excited about being.
I’m very excited to figure out this whole producing thing, and give you guys, give the world something that will make you equally excited in the future.
After the incident while you were working on ”Greys Anatomy”, you’ve recently (as reported by Washington Post) posted a tweet of yours about your support of marriage equality. With that and your upcoming role in ”Blackbird” you’re playing the supportive father of a young boy struggling with his sexuality. Even with this, some members of the public remain sceptical; do you hope to erase this doubt of your views in time?
Well you know it’s really interesting, once people have an agenda or want to make a point you can’t correct what has been written, even though it’s wrong. [I will go on record and say] The good thing about being off of Greys is I got the chance to film Blue Caprice and to be the executive producer for it. I was available to be introduced to Patrik-Ian Polk who asked me on as a producer and it’s great to act and produce such a strong subject matter.
And before the Greys incident went down and everything got taken out of context, this-that and the other, I was in the original Blackbird twenty years ago! If you got back to the roles that I’ve played I played a gay character Spike Lee’s ‘Get On The Bus’. And in my whole African American community when I went home to my neighbourhood in Brooklyn I had African American people get up and walk away from me, I had people spit at me because they couldn’t believe I would play a gay character.
And you know, me not the revolutionary, but the evolutionary that I am which I discuss in my book ‘A Man From Another Land’ I’ve always walked to the beat of my own drum. I always am driven to and tell stories that serve something, that serve a theme, topic or a group of people that have been marginalised. I love all my fans equally but right now if my African American fans and African friends around the world are being marginalised and killed because of their sexuality and that has to change.
“Blue Caprice” is out on DVD/Blu-ray March 19