Here’s what the Fences stars had to share in an interview conducted by NBA legend and cultural commentator Kareem Abdul-Jabbar…
Denzel, on why he thinks the story is still relevant despite being written in 1985: “The circumstances, again, are universal. It could happen to anyone. I don’t know if it’s more political now given the election or whatever, but it’s a long way from Troy to now because now we’re post-Obama even.”
Viola, on what she hopes people will take away from the film about black culture: “I think sometimes what people miss about black people is that we’re complicated, that we are indeed messy, that we do our best with what we’ve been given. We come into the world exactly like you. It’s just that there are circumstances in the culture that are dictated and put on our lives that we have to fight against.”
Denzel on why playwright August Wilson wanted the film to have a black director: “Scorsese probably could have directed Schindler’s List and Spielberg probably could have directed Goodfellas. But it’s as much to do with the difference in culture as it is with race. We know what hair smells like when a hot comb hits it. That’s a cultural thing. We know what that smells like on Sunday mornings, usually church-related or something. In my house, it was getting ready for church and your sister was getting her hair fried.”
For more from Denzel and Viola, visit THR.com.