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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  April 27, 2013 12:00am-12:31am PDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley.tonight, a conversation with chadwick boseman, the breakout star for "42," the movie about jackie robinson who literally risk his life to integrate baseball. the movie has, with the public to find experts who said that the film might have limited appeal. instead, it is rapidly heading toward the $100 million mark at the box office. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to
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fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: playing jackie robinson in "42," the film that header -- that celebrates the heroism of the man who broke the color role.r is a coveted chadwick boseman won the part. it shines a spotlight on the
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solid and passionate marriage of jackie and rachel. let's take a look at a clip from "42." >> promise me you will write. >> when have i ever not written? to know that i'm there for you, even if it is words on paper. , you are in my heart. you're getting close now. the closer you get, the worse they will be. don't let them get to you. >> i won't. god built me to last. -- tavis:ow are you how are you processing all of this gecko eyesight couple of predictions morning that asked acted ultimately -- how are you
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processing all of this geck? i saw a couple of predictions this morning that showed it will actually get to $100 million. >> i have felt incredibly blessed to be a part of it. i will wake up, even before we started shooting come in the mornings, when i practiced and i wasn't too sure, i would just be vibrating with energy. i feel that still come even now, just knowing it's out in the world. not so much the money, but as much as people are appreciated,. we have an -- appreciating it. we have an a+ exit rating. it informs the money because you know people are coming back and telling other people. that what feels good about it. tavis: how bad did you want this pardon would injure have to do geck?
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what did you have to go through to get the part of jackie robinson? >> occurs, it's heart of the process -- at first, it's a rosses of the part of an actor. to lament failure that you have to learn to deal with. i've learned over time to just do what i planned to do when i walk in a room. and believe it. if i throw that -- and leave it. if i throw that paper away, i let it go from my mind. there are so many times when it goes so well and you don't get it. i actually didn't think about the process the first audition after i left. i went back to new york. i was directing a play. it didn't really occur to me that i would get the role until i was watching the nine thinning of the world series.
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and something about that celebration process, you know, the players were so exhilarated because they knew what they had gone through to get to this point and they finally reached the pinnacle, you know, winning the world series. -- iat moment, i felt just had this feeling that i would get this thing. i nudged one of my friends. he nudged another one of my friends. he saying that he's going to play jackie robinson. toast 10.m said so we toasted me. tavis: before you had the part. >> yeah. i ended up going back. this is the interesting thing about it. when you have those moments when you know something is yours, you can't just sit on it. so i felt the need at that point -- that's when the real strong desire for it came in.
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you know, i went to the batting cage, you know, even though they didn't say necessarily yet that i would have to play baseball. but i tried to prepare myself for what i might have to do and i ended up having to do a baseball practice and baseball tryout. and we went in one more time for non-edition and i could tell -- for a non-edition and i could tell during those readings with tiondirector -- four anr an audi and i could tell during those readings with the director that he wanted me in he was just trying to show the everybody else the possibilities of playing the role. it wasn't necessarily a really difficult audition process. it was just a process of trying to keep your mind in a place where you believe it so you, in turn, have the right actions to actualize it.
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tavis: harrison ford, your costar was on our show. i wanted to get his take on what he thought of you. and here's what pearson ford had to s i don't want to call him, but this is obviously the movie of his. so far. what do you make of this chadwick boseman? >> an extra neri actor. a really extraordinary person. actor.xtraordinary a really extraordinary person. he worked five days week and five hours a day on perfecting the baseball skills that were necessary to play jackie robinson. understood the opportunity that he had. and the challenge that he had. and i think he took tremendous advantage of that opportunity. he is a great kid. we will be seeing him a whole lot. tavis: that is high praise from harrison ford. [laughter]
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>> week text back and forth now. sometimes, we play phone tag with each other. but he has been, you know, a great support, not just on set, but even after we shot the movie. it just feels good to know you have somebody like that in your corner. tavis: you feel you developed a lifelong friendship with him now? >> i hope so feels -- i hope so. it feels that we have. he doesn't really say a whole lot. tavis: i know. [laughter] >> but he leads by action, you know what i'm saying, he is a person of action and i appreciate that. i had a good time hanging out with him and i sort of got the chance to understand his sense of humor. so it has been fun. is a legend, but at the end of the day, he is a real person. tavis: speaking of a legend and a real person, rachel robinson,
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the iconic -- given how she has so wonderfully and beautifully protected and advanced to the legacy of her husband jackie she said toat has you yet what did she say you about your work when it was all said and done? fell he let know that she was satisfied with it stop -- with it. you know that it not only made her remember the difficulties of the time, but the joy that they share together. , she was the person that i couldn't get out of my head. i had to get everybody else out of my head just to do it. act the thing. you don't want to be thinking about his approval. but it felt all right to have her in that space. take a it is one thing to not
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itk her approval -- tavis: is one thing to not seek her approval. but it must be intimidating. >> yeah, and i guess the best way to say it is eyeing new that she wouldn't hold her tongue about it. -- is that i knew that she wouldn't hold her tongue about it. i trusted her to say the right thing but also, because of the person that she is, she is andng and staley, -- states lee, and she would be able to do it in a way that would be positive for the film, in fact if there was something that she wasn't pleased with. when she came to the set, she was really enjoying this moment. she has waited for so long to have this happen. and it was fun to her to be able to experience it and absorb it. tavis: how would you have
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processed having had the chance to play the role if the film had not been a box office success? thet didn't connect with public and didn't make this kind of money, how would you have felt about playing the role if it wasn't making a hundred million dollars eventually? >> the only time i considered it wouldn't do well was when harrison said to me -- this is last year when we were looking at an early cut? he said, look, you've done everything you can do. you can as hard as work. he actually said, you know, it's not good to work too hard as an actor. the you had to work hard doing justbecause of, you know, the baseball part of it, the physical part of it made it so way you had to sweat. you had to let them see you sweat. deephen there was a
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internal emotional part the have to take him with you when you get over on certain days. he said, but, you can take that and chairs that because you can't control how -- but you can take that and cherish that because you can't control how people see it. hadn't said that, i considered that it wouldn't do well. but i took that as that is my victory. it prepares you -- it prepares your mind for these moments. if you don't go in and do those reps and get those failures, that is preparing you for bigger success and also for bigger failure. so i always leave it at the door. now, if it hadn't done well, you know, you're going to feel it. i wouldn't deny that. you're going to feel disappointed.
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i'm sure i would have felt not only disappointed in the film, but disappointed in the people that they did not ignore said it an important thing to go see. but i'm just glad that people have turned out and that they appreciate what they see when they go in there. ? when ii told harrison, bought -- i brought my ticket stub to show him that i actually paid for it. home and watchy a screening, but i really wanted to go see this in a moving theater. so i went to the arc light in hollywood. i bought my ticket and went to see it. so i am in a studio, in a theater with overwhelmingly white folk. i had to control myself because i was laughing so hard. [laughter] you know where i am going with this. i heard you were laughing, too, in the filling. i was -- in the filming. i was laughing so hard when the coach from the pittsburgh team
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is calling you nigger over and over again. he was so hilarious to me that they were doing everything they could to try to throw you off your game and i was there and a couple of other african- americans and we were laughing. and the white folk were, like, that's not funny. it wasn't funny. but if you are black, you process it in a different way. these white folks are doing everything they can to throw him off his game. so i had to control myself. i did not want to laugh out loud. i read later on where it was kind of humorous for you, too, while you were filming it. is that true? >> i am glad you asked the question. a lot of times, when people ask you, they want you to say a certain thing. they want you to say that those words have control over you. reading it and hearing it, hearing him do it, alex is a
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funny guy. most of the stuff he does is funny. he is cast in a role that is not typical for him. so when i first started hearing it in some of the early rehearsals, i did chuckle because -- [laughter] like, it's so absurd and it's youlike, off-the-wall that are, like, i can't believe that he's doing it. i can't believe that he has gone there. it is a most like a stand up comedian. then, at a certain point, i think what happens is the context, the real context sets in. it teaches you something about the power of words and that -- and the power of -- and the power that words have and don't have. there is a debate over whether or not the and word should be used or not -- whether or not
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the n-word should be used or not. to the word tor either be funny or to be serious. and it's the context. it's the context. it's like -- we created on the set the real context of those words and it took me -- it took alan and i not speaking. it took the crowd not knowing what the scene was and then being disturbed by it. and then there were some african-americans that laughed and some that began to feel uncomfortable. so they went through the same process that i did. and then there is a point where it almost has, like, you know -- it just overwhelms you in a way where you have to feel emotions
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that you don't want to reach. yeah, all of that. tavis: i think you are right about the fact over whether one chooses to give power to the word or not. but in fairness to jackie robinson who had to endure these tongs, it is also about context. so we are looking at this film in real time. we are looking at it in 23rd time -- ready 13. he was in during this back in the day. so what he was enduring at the time and in the context of the way people were being treated more broadly, obviously, it wasn't a laughing matter then. i think the reason i found it humorous now was a cousin's delivery was funny. he was tried to be over-the-top. he was being over-the-top. but the but the other part that was funny for me was, you know, sitting here in 20, if the best you can do in 2013, if the best -- sitting here in 2013, if the best you can do in 2013, if the best you can do to get me off my
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game is name-calling to throw me off, i think, i think it is about the context that he had to unlearn -- had to endure. >> you know that he can back it up. they're going to show up at your house in 1947. tavis: that's right. >> for me, he was a learning lesson. that is the debate. all of this in one moment, i can see this entire debate, which is apowerful, you know -- powerful thing to take from a film also. take him it's interesting to me that this becomes -- this will be regarded, i suspect as long as your true goals and on, as your breakout role, playing jackie robinson in "42," yet before all of this happened, you are writing and directing plays. so we had not heard of you, the nation had not heard of chadwick
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boseman prior to that. to give me a sense of what you have been doing all this time to exercise your craft for this moment that brings you to our consciousness? >> i think there's a difference between a working actor, a movie star, and a celebrity. all three are different things. i was a working actor. i was a working writer. who basically work in various and different realms, whether it is script doctoring, hip-hop theater, which we would take the aesthetics of hip-hop and put them into a theatrical form, classical work, shakespeare, anything that you can imagine in terms of stage. and then tv work. there came a certain point where i knew that i wanted to be sitting here hopping about a movie. and i knew that the way to do that was to do as much tv or , as istuff on camera
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could. so i began to turn some of the other work down. at some point come i probably will bring it all back togeer ag really notmyself just an actor, but an artist. i have always seen it that way because there are some works that you shouldn't act in. some parts you shouldn't do. but, if you are a writer, you should write them. some parts, some movies you should produce or direct. so i've always kind of kept all of those trains running. as i said, even before or right before i got this role, i was directing a play on broadway. i never like to just sit and meow someone else to tell when i can work. if i am an artist, i have to
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get up and betist everyday. and and if all i am doing is sitting there waiting on the breakdowns or waiting for my agent to call me, how can i get better? so to me, as an artist, he was always important to me to get up and write. that makes me a better actor. acting makes me a better writer. directing makes me a better writer and actor. so to get up and do something that moves me toward my goal, it is really about what is feeding you at a particular time, what is driving you or what is inspiring you. , your what is your sense hope or is there already evidence to answer this question that you can put on the table about how much more the agent will be calling you on the other ? -- of "42 those quote number -- "42"?
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rita miranda was here. way back in the day -- rita morenip o was-- rita here. way back in the day, it had been seven years since she had won an academy award. she did not find a role that was worth doing. we had a wonderful conversation about actors of color and with these awards really mean. she and i had a really deep dialogue about persons of color who win these awards and you don't see them for a long time. oftentimes don't let them capitalize on the success they have had no matter how good they were at what they're doing. that is a long way of asking whether not the phone is ringing more or do you expect that it will -- i assume you hope that it will -- now that we have seen what you're capable of. >> well, i don't answer my
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phone. [laughter] tavis: that answers that question. >> right now, it's too crazy. it's buzzing all the time. about whatod feeling is to come. and i've seen some evidence of good things. i just signed on to do another film with kevin costner. and there are a lot of things on the table to do. but where i am the same is that some of the things that come to you, you are like, i'm not going to follow jackie robinson with that. tavis: that is what i wanted to hear. [laughter] >> i can't follow jackie robinson with that. you have to sort of a respect to what you just came from. and a lot of times, you know,
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what i have also seen is really disturbing. you will see people within the industry who almost three you like a person who got to sit down in a restaurant -- the owner set you in this seat, but then the host is, like, how did you get past me? how did you get past me to sit in the seat? i want to back outside -- and they want to see you back outside and put you in your proper place. and that is really disturbing. you have to remember, oh, no, this is what i just did and this is what i aspire to do. take up to one of your -- tavis: to your earlier point, you just hit the send and zell is a good example as well. zel is a good example
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as well. ,he name is chadwick boseman the start of the new film about the life and legacy of jackie robinson, "42." it is well on its way to making a lot more money. great to see you. that is our show for tonight. thank's for watching. till next time, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with john would first up -- john wood.
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>> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs.
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debate is raging around governor jerry brown's sweeping proposal to change how school districts are funded as he pushing back against critics. >> this is a cause for the children of california and a cause for our own future. >> in the wake of the boston marathon bombing, a call for more security cameras for san francisco's market street. drawing concerns for the civil liberties groups. and the keystone pipeline across the center of the united states could expand in the california area. and an interview with haurz

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