Jeremy Pope On How Leaving A Big Studio Film Led To His Breakout Role In ‘The Inspection: ‘I Was Tired Of Negotiating My Worth

Jeremy Pope On How Leaving A Big Studio Film Led To His Breakout Role In ‘The Inspection: ‘I Was Tired Of Negotiating My Worth

Jeremy Pope does not go quietly into a new environment. Not only did the actor earn a Tony Award nomination for his 2018 Broadway debut in Tarell Alvin McCraney's Glee Boy, he became one of only six actors in history to receive two nominations in different categories in the same year. for the musical "I'm not too proud". Her television debut as Ryan Murphy's Hollywood Lead earned her her first Emmy nomination. And now her first starring role, The Review, has earned rave reviews from the Pope and been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and a Golden Globe.

While Pope's charisma and talent were evident in his stage and television work, it never warranted the big screen. But it's clear from the opening moments of Cash Box that Pope isn't just a great actor, he's a star. Beautifully directed by Lachlan Milne, Pope loves every frame of the film. And for someone who can act larger than life, the actor also proves that he can convey a lot through silence, using only fleeting eyes and facial expressions.

Pope is now returning to Broadway with Jean-Michel Basquiat in Paul Bettany's Andy Warhol collaboration. In fact, he returned to the same dressing room at the Samuel J. Friedman, where he made his Broadway debut. “It was my first dressing room on Broadway, so I did it. I have pillows, pictures and curtains, most of which are still here, Pope says. "This is a very important moment for me." The show will be made into a movie, with both actors reprising their roles and Pope also playing Sammy Davis. Jr. in an upcoming film directed by Janet Mock.

For those familiar with his work on stage, it was always a matter of "if" rather than "when" Pope would break through to movie stardom. As he tells Variety , there were other opportunities before Checking, but the actor knew not only the value of the right project, but also his own value.

Inspection is your first big movie role and it seems like it's a movie that people really want to talk about and share their stories with. What was your reaction?

Jeremy Pope: It was really good. It's also news to me because Hollywood came out during the pandemic and I was doing a promotion in my living room in my boxers, so none of it was true. When our independent film goes to the festival, you can ask these questions and answers, connect with your audience and hear how it affects them. And I think our film will live with people after they see it. I've gotten a lot of emails from friends and some people I respect in the industry, people who don't know me at all. The Marines showed me the meaning of this story. I am very happy and proud of this film, its meaning and how it turned out. So it's just a gift.

A lot of people have directors or actors they want to work with, but you said you really want to work with A24.

Dad : Every year I make a visualization table that shows things. And I had an A24 on my rendering board, I've been wanting to work with them for a long time. Then I fell in love with this script. I met with Elegance [Breton, the director] and it was great, but it was nine months before I heard anything about the project and it was difficult. Because as I'm sure artists will tell you, sometimes you have a knack for things; this feeling must be mine. But you also have to tell yourself that you don't want it, because it's devastating when you don't get it. And the simple fact is that you won't get much.

How do you deal with rejection like this?

Dad: You just have to know that it takes years of effort and getting no, no, and no, and no, no. And then you get a "yes" and you don't know what that "yes" means or how it will change your life. And I was lucky that those few yeses were from people like Tarell Alvin McCrane, Janet Mock, and Elegance Bratton.

When did you finally get the news?

Dad: Well, that's interesting because I was making another movie. And I took a leap of faith and quit that job, a job that wasn't working for me. A few hours later I heard that there was an "inspection".

It's unbelievable. Was it hard to leave?

Pope: The short version is that I was given the opportunity to direct a studio film. And even if I didn't like the script, it meant something. But it was one of those things that got me into conversations, brought me to directors and studio people. As you know, it's a currency, and it helps you understand where the comma is on your check and what options are available to you.

But I had an interesting conversation with the director where he basically said that I can't get along with a female character because I'm gay. At this point I was thinking about how to protect myself. But in the end it was much more about where she was and her life path than who I am and what I know I bring to the project. So this was my first time. Shall I leave it? And I had to sort myself out and serve myself and say that I can't be in an environment that doesn't support me and instill in me what I'm going to support and instill in me. I've spent a lot of years doing a lot of really interesting projects that usually don't pay much, but that's because people are honest and open and vulnerable and willing to care about art.

So I had to say, "You're wasting this energy," because it would have taken too much of me. And literally in one breath, I knew it wasn't working for me when the phone rang and it said, "A24 wants to talk about 'Check.' I guess I had to take the test to realize that I have to go through this and figure out my worth and my existence and how I want to present myself in this business and what I'm willing to put up with, not So I think , as I said, life must do the things of life.

So, are you signed up for the next movie? Or is that the only reason you entered the discussion?

Dad: Oh, they filmed for three days. It was difficult. I never want to be considered a difficult person. You know how this business works. Especially if you belong to a marginalized group, you have a chance, you don't want to. But it didn't help me. Again, I know what you bring to the table. I introduce myself to my colleagues on stage, history, craft. I come from a theater background, so I do this working life. For someone to make me feel different… I'm just tired of debating my worth.

Actors want to please their directors, but it has to be special because the story for Elegance is very personal.

Dad: This is his story. His experience. And this is his directorial debut. And it means a lot to me to know that I was his first choice. The trust I felt from him was very important. We shot this film in 19 days, at the height of the pandemic, in Jackson, Mississippi, in 117-degree weather. So it was challenging and difficult and difficult, but his belief in me and my belief in him as a storyteller was so special and I will always be grateful for that opportunity.

Where do you start your physical and mental training?

Pope : We had a real camp, we got up so early, at 3:30, 4:30, I thought: "Well, we're actors. Why are we doing this?” But it helped us bond with the guys, we all had to shave our heads and introduce ourselves. Octavia Jones was a Marine officer and military advisor who truly served with distinction. And he was there to make sure we looked good, to make sure we looked like Marines.

I think I was more prepared emotionally than physically. I knew what space I needed to create specifically for Elegance. I don't know if people know, but this story was an attempt for him to get over to his mother. They gave the green light and killed the mother a few days later. So I knew it was a very vulnerable and sensitive area. But he was nice enough to admit that I had to create my own version of French.

Now you're back in theater, which can be unpredictable. What's the craziest thing that's happened to you on stage?

Dad: I've said this before, but maybe during my first performance in Choir Boy, my Broadway debut, my mom passed out. I think he was so nervous and worried that I would see his son on stage and how I started to blend into the character. It was an exciting clip.

Indeed, he had a similar experience when the film "Overview" premiered at TIFF. I thought things would be different since it's not a live theater, but I started to panic when the movie started. He told me, "It's hard to define the work you do in these characters, and it makes you feel so vulnerable and honest and real." He wants to try to travel with your character, but for some reason he feels like a mother and wants to protect me.

Well, for her sake, I need you to make a good romantic comedy.

Father : That's right: maybe something easier.

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