Regina King discusses the roles that make up her exceptional film and TV career, including '227,' 'Boyz n the Hood,' 'Friday,' 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back,' 'The Boondocks,' 'Southland,' 'If Beale Street Could Talk,' 'Watchmen,' 'One Night in Miami...,' and 'The Harder They Fall.'
- I do something differentfor every single role that I play.It's part of the preparation,so the beauty of my life is thatI have been working for over 35 yearsand it's still different.[mellow jazz music]I'm Regina King, and this isthe timeline of my career.Okay, wait a minute, Mom.You said I was born a week late, right?If you woulda have me ontime, I'd be 16 already.[audience laughing]- Then you should have comeout when I asked you to.- I actually did the play "227."It was a play before it was a TV series,and Marla Gibbs sold it toNBC to make it into a series.Nine auditions later,I finally got the part.Marla Gibbs is the original boss.Before it was a thing tobe the actor, the producer,the creator of something,Marla Gibbs was doing it in the '80s.I had the opportunity tosoak in so much information,so much bossladyness at a young age,that I know for sure that knowledge,that education has carried with meall the way until my adult career.- Girl, I seen him before.He work at the Fox Hills mall.- Mm.Do he got a girlfriend?- Yes.- There is so much of a differencebetween how your mind works doing a sitcomand how your mind works doing a film,and then enters John Singleton,and I'm getting to seethings for the first timethrough someone else's first time.Because of that,I believe he just was soopen to everyone aroundbeing able to plug into all of this knowledgeand all this whole worldthat he was exposing us to,because we were all pretty, pretty green.It was a singular experiencebecause it was this momentwhere you have all of these artiststhat just want to be true to the story.It was a special time.- Dana.- What?- Do me a favor.- What, Craig?- Hook me up with Debbie.- She ain't got no timeto be messing with you.- Come on, Dana.- On set, we just had a good time.It didn't necessarily feellike we were shooting a film.In hindsight, yes,it makes sense that it was such a success,but in the moment it just felt like,they really letting us do this?Okay.Let's do it.- Don't nobody go in the bathroomfor about 35, 45 minutes.Somebody open the window.- Having John Witherspoonplay my father, that was huge,'cause for us,I mean, him and "Boomerang,"and make earrings to itlike you supposed to do it.Bam, bam, bam.So, I just knew howbrilliant this man was,and this was Cube andmy third film together,so we already had a brotherand sister chemistry.It just was perfect tobe sister and brother.Plus Joy would kick your ass, anyway.- Joy ain't gon' do a goddamn thing.- Craig, get out my room!- Shut up.- So, I don't know that I went into itfeeling like this is going to be huge,this is going to be cult classic,but it did feel special.Well, well, hi there, Winston.- How do you do?- As you can see, I'm evenmore beautiful and brilliantthan whatever her name is.Get your butt out of that car.- Okay.- I think the thing that wasjust most exciting for mewas that I was goingto get the opportunityto work with Angela Bassettand actually work with her.I think some people look at that as, oh,you guys have done two films together.I think if you talk to Angela and I,we don't look at it that way,because "Boyz n the Hood,"we were in different scenes.We didn't even see eachother passing at work.So, this was, for us in a lot of regard,our first film together.I love the fact that Kevin Sullivanreally embraced the rehearsal process.Because the three of us were sisters,he wanted to see how we may have reactedin different stages in our life together.It was a really great processbecause I think whatI've taken along with meis the importance of backstory,building a backstory to your character.It may not be in the dialogue,but it should show up in the performance.It should make the characterthat you're watchingfeel like a full character.I really got a chance to exercise thatworking with Kevin Sullivan.Excuse me.Everyone, I have a briefannouncement to make.Jesus was Black,Ronald Reagan was the devil,and the government is lying about 9/11.Thank you for your time, and goodnight.- No!- I promise you to this day,I could have the Will Smith,50-kil deal, $500 million blockbuster,and people are still gonna come up to meto talk about Huey and Riley.I went in to audition for Riley.I got the part.And so they were stilltrying to cast Huey,and it was like almost a year process,and we still hadn't cast Huey,and I would read withdifferent actors for Hueyand I would hear the directionsthat they would give,and so I just told myagent, I was like, you know,I can addition for Huey, you know?Well, what to you think?Chuck was like, absolutely,and they asked me could I doboth the roles at the same time?And I was like, you meanlike go back and forth?And they were like, yeah.And I was like, sure, give me a beat.- What the hell is wrong with you, Huey?If your brother wants toplay with Ed and Rummy,that's his business.- Ed and Rummy areinternational criminals.There he go, hatin' again.- Boy, stop hating.- When you're on a cartoon,the thing that you alwaysrun into is being dated.The thing that's sogreat about "South Park"is the way they do that cartoon,they can turn it around so quicklyso the commentary is always current,and we were always soconcerned with "Boondocks,"if we were going to be able,our social commentary was goingto be able to remain currentbecause of the style of that animationis not a quick turnaround.And we were able to remain currentand we were able to be a little dangerous,and there were times Iwould get the script,and I would be like, whew, okay,well, I'm just doing myjob, so it's not my fault.[laughs]When messages are comingthrough with humor,it's kind of like, you know,a spoonful of sugar helpsthe medicine go down.- She's endangering the child.- What if she's clean?- What if I give her back the babyand it winds up dead in a week?You do your job.Let me do mine.- Yes, she screwed up, butshe's asking for another chance.Give it to her.Lydia was so special,special for so many reasons.One, because I was a motherand I made the decisionto go back to TVso that I would not be taking rolesthat would take me out of the city.I wanted to be there and I wanted my sonto be in regular school.I didn't want him to be homeschooled.So, here I am on a showthat takes place in my city,the city that I'm born andbred in, Southland, LA.Oh my God.Westside?And it was such a powerful experienceto be in the presence of the castthat I look at them asmy brothers to this day,and then having teacherslike Christopher Chulack and John Wellsthat truly embraced mewanting to be a director.That was really powerfulto have that support ata time when I was nervous aboutsaying that I wanted tobe a director out loud.Not only did they hear it,but they also said, oh yeah,you absolutely can do it,and they did everything intheir power to cosign it.And I know.I know you pay for the lies you tell.You sent a man to jail,one you ain't never even seen before.Just 22 years old, young,and he wants to marry my daughter."If Beale Street Could Talk."I mean, James Baldwin,Barry Jenkins.How could I not want to be involved?What an amazing giftthe universe can give.Now, Alice, I don't think thatFrank was talking about hate.He was just speaking on the truth.- I trust in God.I know he cares for me.- I think of that whole role that I playedthrough this one scene,and the thing that wasreally awesome to meabout what Baldwin did in that sceneand what Barry was able to continueis when you're looking at this scenariothrough the eyes of both matriarchs.- I hope you're proudhow you raised your daughters.My girls ain't gon' be bringingno bastards home to feed.I can tell you that.- And Sharon is a mother thatlives and rules through love.And then you have Aunjanue's character,everything that she's doing iscoming from a place of fear.That child that's comingis your grandchild.While she would rule from a place of fearand Sharon would rulefrom a place of love,they both at their very center was love,but our circumstances make uslive things out differently.There's a guy in my trunk.I knew you were going to tellus to round up the likelies.I just got to jump on things.- You knew?- How do you know he's Seventh K?- I got a nose for white supremacy,and he smells like bleach.My sister and I,we have a production companyand we for the longesthad been talking aboutdoing a story, a film,on Black Wall Street.Damon gave me a call, well, an email,and he said, "I have somethingthat I want you to read,and I really hope you like it."It had to be hand delivered to me,and I started reading the script,and then I closed it fourpages in, 'cause I was like,is he doing Black Wall Street?I got chills.I got chills right now in this moment.And I was like, what is this?What is happening?In just 65 pages,Damon and this writing team,they have managed to do a gumboof genres and it's workingand I'm interested.I called Damon, and Iwas like, more, please.I need to know more.There was something reallypowerful about Damonbeing able to take the original material,use it as canon,use big world-building,actual real-world thingsthat are happening in our timethat mirror what was happeningwhen it was originally writtenand just propel thestory through that space.- You know, what is going on around us,it should make everyone angry.You know, you bourgeois Negroes,you're too happy with your scrapsto really understandwhat is at stake here.- "One Night in Miami,"it's actually my second film.My first film was "Letthe Church Say Amen,"but it was a TV film.I wanted to direct thisbecause still to this moment,even after having finished"One Night in Miami,"that we don't get the opportunity to seemore than two Black men together.It just felt important to me.When I read Kemp Power's script,it was very clear thatthis was his love letterto being a Black man.- The problem is at the Copa,you have to sell that messageto a bunch of white folks.- That don't matter.They got souls, don't they?- I feel like as an actor,there was so much I wasabsorbing along the way,but being able to workas a director in TV,I was really truly ableto just be a spongeand treat it like school.And I was doing thatuntil that perfect scriptthat really spoke to me,that made me feel like Iwould do whatever I canto tell this story came along,and Kemp Powers' "One Nightin Miami" finally came my way.- [Rufus] The angel who hunts downthose who trespassagainst him with no mercy.- Open it."The Harder They Fall"was a script that came to me actuallywhile I was shooting "The Watchmen."I had an amazing FaceTimewith James Samuel,the writer-director.You know, I thought the script was good.You know, I thought it was solid,but I wasn't sure if Iwanted to do a Westernbecause I didn't really watch Westerns.And my agent, Lorrie, was like,"You just gotta meet this guy.There's something specialabout him," and I did,and it was supposed to bejust a 30-minute FaceTime.We ended up being on FaceTimefor like a hour and some change,and he described the musicto me through his eyes.James speaks through music,so, literally, he picked up the guitarand was playing music during our FaceTime,and I was immediatelylike, okay, I'm down.- What the hell you doing?That ain't no way to board,you damn, stupid ni- [gun fires]- He might could have said nincompoop.- We ain't no nincompoop.And I was shooting "One Nightin Miami" in New Orleans,and I love the way theytalk in New Orleans,so I decided to kind ofroot a bit of my accentand my dialect,a little Louisiana inspiration'cause I'd spent so much time thereand the city really embraced us.The times we're absorbingthe most informationis when we don't thinkthat we're learning.But when you don't feel likeyou're in a classroom setting,when you don't feel likeyou're doing somethingbecause you're being toldthat this is somethingthat you have to learn,I think you're more of a sponge.