×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ Actor Colman Domingo on Why James Baldwin’s Work Still Resonates

Colman Domingo says he enjoys pursuing a wide range of projects. Between writing recent musicals about Donna Summer and Nat King Cole and starring in Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel “If Beale Street Could Talk,” the multihyphenate must be having a hell of a time.

How does the film bring James Baldwin’s world to life?

Barry Jenkins and his production designers were very in tune with Baldwin’s language, making sure that it was represented in the environment. I love the fact that we weren’t on a soundstage. We filmed all of the family scenes in apartments in Harlem; we were in a brownstone in the neighborhood where their stories took place. So it had all the feel, even the sound, even the air of what James Baldwin’s intentions were. Everything was the way I imagined it to be.

What was it like on the set?

Barry is a gentleman in every sense of the word. Filming can often be stressful, but this experience was so easy, like a breath, like a dance. There were no hardships. There was such kindness and gentleness on set. The way Regina King and I came together as husband and wife, we sort of fell into one another, because we understood the characters and the story — and there’s a reverence we have for James Baldwin’s language.

It seems like people are rediscovering Baldwin’s work. Why do you think that is?

I think people are wrestling with these ideals of America and the American dream, or race, or gender, and society, and government. These are things that James Baldwin has always been wrestling with. No one can lay out with such clarity and so much grace and intelligence the things that we’re wrestling with in our society like Baldwin.

You’ve written about diverse topics, from Alzheimer’s to Donna Summer. 

I always write with a series of questions, whether I’m trying to deconstruct an American icon like Donna Summer or Nat King Cole. It’s about deconstructing America in some ways, and I think the only way to wrestle with those [issues is] as a writer. With [my play] “Dot,” I had questions about Alzheimer’s and families. How does it affect families and marriages? How do families stay together?

More Film

  • Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King) and Bella (Amber)

    China's Bona Film Boards Brad Pitt's 'Ad Astra,' 'A Dog's Way Home' (EXCLUSIVE)

    China’s Bona Film Group is co-financing Brad Pitt space adventure “Ad Astra,” one of several films in a strong slate of international movies the company plans to release in the Middle Kingdom over the next year. Bona has also acquired Roland Emmerich’s war spectacular “Midway” and is investing in “A Dog’s Way Home,” the sequel [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Sets Pre-Sales Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” sets a pre-sales record, “Bohemian Rhapsody” hits a milestone, and SAG-AFTRA promotes four executives.  PRE-SALES RECORD “Aquaman” has set a pre-sales record for Atom Tickets, topping “Deadpool 2,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Black Panther.” “Clearly, ‘Aquaman’ has captured the attention of movie fans with its larger-than-life adventure that must [...]

  • 'Liga' Kicks Off At Ventana Sur's

    Ventana Sur: 'La Liga' Kicks Off at Buenos Aires' Animation!

    Spain’s Quirino Awards, Argentina’s Animation! and Mexico’s Pixelatl Festival, three key events in Ibero-American animation, will join forces to create La Liga (The League), as announced Wednesday at an Animation! round table hosted by the Quirino Awards, titled “Iberoamerican Alliance Models.” Speakers included Quirino Awards promoter José Luis Farias, Mexico’s Pixelatl director José Iñesta, Gonzalo [...]

  • The Quake Review

    Film Review: 'The Quake'

    Roar Uthaug’s 2015 “The Wave” revived the pleasures of the 1970s disaster-movie cycle in a form that seemed purer than the never-quite-dead genre’s recent Stateside incarnations — most of which seem to involve Dwayne Johnson in a generic pileup of CGI perils. “The Wave” wasn’t high art, but it was entertainment that delivered some standard [...]

  • The Mule trailer

    Film Review: Clint Eastwood in 'The Mule'

    From Dirty Harry to … dirty grandpa, Clint Eastwood certainly has a type of character that he plays best, and “The Mule” finds him squarely in his comfort zone, appearing as a surly old horticulturalist who, at age 90, has become perhaps the most reliable drug runner for the Sinaloa cartel, evading detection for nearly [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content