Denzel Washington, Viola Davis & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Talk Race, Family & ‘Fences’

Elijah C. Watson Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When…
Denzel Washington, Viola Davis & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Talk Race, Family & 'Fences'

Denzel Washington, Viola Davis & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Talk Race, Family & 'Fences'

Fences will be hitting theaters towards the end of December, and ahead of its release director and actor Denzel Washington and actress Viola Davis, sat down with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to discuss the film.

The 16 minute conversation takes on a more traditional interview, as Abdul-Jabbar reads his questions from a piece of paper to Washington and Davis.

“To me, Fences was emotionally compelling and unflinching in its honesty. It’s what King Lear would’ve looked like if Shakespeare was a black guy from Pittsburgh,” Abdul-Jabbar begins. “It has the same powerful theme of a man doomed to destroy his wonderful life, because his pride and his ego blind him to what he has. Is that how you saw it?”

“He’s a tragic hero. He’s your everyman, kind of antihero,” Davis said. “I definitely see it that way.”

As the chat goes on Abdul-Jabbar quotes August Wilson (the man whose play of the same name the movie is based off of) and asks Washington and Davis about what insights into black life in America might be taken away from white viewers going to see Fences.

“It could be that it’s not that different. Circumstances, no matter the color is, could be similar,” Washington said. “It’s like it’s for the audience to put whatever they want on the narrative, but for me I think sometimes what people miss about black people is that we’re complicated,” Davis added. “That we do our best with what we’ve been given. It’s like Denzel said, that 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.”

You can check out the rest of the interview below. Fences makes its debut in theaters across the world on December 25.

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