Brian Tyree Henry is not in one or two, but three hyper-anticipated films this season: Widows, If Beale Street Could Talk, and White Boy Rick. In these, the Atlanta actor departs from his role as the rising rapper Paper Boi to take on a variety of characters, from a politician to a Harlem resident to a detective.
Regardless of the role he’s taking on, Henry says his focus is on picking characters he cares about and bringing humanity to the roles. “I want to do what really speaks to my heart. Navigating these men—these black men—I want there to be a way for people who don't have access to men like this to realize that they're still human beings, to realize that their stories are still important, to realize that if you are this man, there's a representation of you somewhere,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in a new interview.
Along with his movies coming out this fall/winter, Henry has now taken multiple parts as law enforcement, including in Lobby Hero, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and the upcoming Child's Play and The Woman in the Window. “I'm so tired as a black person having to think about my mortality,” he told THR.
He said "the one thing" he likes about police parts is "putting me in this frame of mind of this person who chose this job, who wants to protect us." He went on: "And believe it or not, most of the police that joined, it's because they want to protect and serve. It just so happens that there are a lot of places where being a cop you have an agenda and you don't really give a fuck about the communities that you patrol. But that's not all cops. It's enlightening. At the end of the day, the humanity of these people is what I'm trying to get to."
He also opened up about feeling "enraged" toward law enforcement after the death of Philando Castile, saying he was "going fucking ape-shit crazy." He has four older sisters who work in security in Washington, D.C. and he directed his attention toward them. "I called my sisters like, ‘Quit your job right now. Not only are you a black woman, but you're a black woman cop.' One of them was like, 'I can't. I really can't. I can't do that.' I took a step back, I was like, I can't make her do that. Who am I mad at?"
Read Henry’s entire interview with The Hollywood Reporter here.