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FLY Interviews: Ato Essandoh Talks Jason Bourne, Big Brother Watching, Diversity In Hollywood and More In Exclusive Interview.

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to Essandoh is quickly becoming a household name when it comes to rising black stars in Hollywood. Essandoh is building quite the resume currently starring in HBO’s new hit show Vinyl and past roles on Girls, Elementary, Blue Bloods, Copper on BBC, Django Unchained and Blood Diamond just to name a few. Now he can add Jason Bourne to that growing list of films.

SFPL’s own Bernard Beanz Smalls caught up with the actor to discuss his upcoming role in film based off the popular Robert Ludlum books. He also touched on the government watching us through various forms of technology (cellphones, computers), diversity in Hollywood, working with Tommy Lee Jones and Matt Damon and more. Step into our exclusive interview with the amazing actor below.

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First of all I loved the movie. Great performance. Tell me about your character in Jason Bourne.

Thanks man. I play Craig Jeffers, he is the right hand man of Tommie Lee Jones’ who plays the director of the C.I.A.. I’m basically a company man, a patriot, and I’m a true believer. Then suddenly I’m confronted which you don’t see a lot of in the movie because it’s an action movie and not a drama but, suddenly I’m supplanted by Heather Lee; which is Alicia Vikander’s character, and it’s the difference between the old school C.I.A. and what now is the new world that were facing these days.

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Tommy Lee Jones and Alicia Vakander in Jason Bourne

Where it’s more a war about information rather than the usual wet work war of going into a place and blowing it up. That’s the dynamic we’re seeing between Jeffers and Heather Lee and essentially Tommie Lee Jones’s character and Heather Lee; the old C.I.A. versus the new C.I.A..

 

Awesome! That was actually one of my questions. I see this movie more kind of like “big brother” watching you. Do you ever think about that? Does it cross your mind? You know with the monitoring of your cellphone because there was a lot of cool but at the same time scary things like, the facial recognition technology.

It always comes to mind because there were often times on set where I would ask if this was actually real technology or we made it for the movie and Paul Greengrass would actually say no this is stuff people are already doing and it’s already possible, it’s been possible. So it’s scary but it’s also fascinating because the evolution of technology throughout human history has always caused us to reflect on our own humanity and what it means to exist in this world as a society. I think we’re at a tipping point that no other human society has been in ever in the 200,000 years that we have been humans. So we’re now faced with huge moral quandaries about what this power is giving us and what that means for us as individuals. It’s even questioning what privacy means anymore. When we even with all of this technology, we are willingly putting up our entire lives digitally on whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or any of the other technologies out there. It’s like on one side some of us want to keep our privacy but on the other side we’re posting everything on Facebook. Corporations are seeing this and using that as a way to market to us and sell us products or surveil us and it’s a very interesting place that we are in society today.

Very true, very true. I’m a huge fan of the Bourne franchise. I was very excited to see Jason Bourne was back. Are you a fan of the franchise? Have you seen any of the films prior to taking this role?

Yes! Those are the kind of movies where they’ll show it on TBS and even with commercials I’ll still watch it. What I loved about the franchise before is the mystery of a guy who has no memory but has all this incredible skills and is so resourceful he can kill you with some lipstick and a piece of paper, you know what I’m saying. I love the evolution and what I love about this movie is that now you see him when he’s older and maybe a little slower and now you know a little bit more about him so how does this older, more damaged Jason Bourne negotiate through this new world. Again we’re looking at this old world that he’s been a part of and now this new threat which is the informational threat; the more femoral digital threat that were all facing today.

I agree. Matt Damon is pretty amazing as Jason Bourne. It’s almost surprising to see him do all of things because you don’t really think of him as this action star. How was it working with Matt?

The man is a good dude. He’s sort of the trope of the guy you’d like to get a beer with. He’s an ultra famous guy and he’s really, really laid back. I mean there was one time, you know he’s Jason Bourne and Jason Bourne is supposed to be all sneaky and can disappear at a moments notice and we’re filming in a Las Vegas casino; it’s Alicia, I, and Matt trying to film this scene with a bunch of extras along with the people in the casino, and we call action and he’s being sneaky Jason Bourne; but everyone’s trying to record him on their cellphones as he’s walking by.

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne

So you see the dynamic where Matt Damon can’t go anywhere. Jason Bourne is supposed to be able to go anywhere, but Matt Damon cannot. He played it cool, just real laid back, real professional; I loved chasing him around in a casino in Vegas.

How was it working beside Tommie Lee Jones who was your character’s boss in the movie?

Tommie Lee Jones is a legend. He is one of those straight talking dudes and he can bring it anytime he wants. He’s one of my favorite actors from back in the day and he likes to tell a lot of stories. One of the great stories he told me, he looked over to me and he goes you know what, years ago he was doing soap operas. This is how long this guy’s been in the business.

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Tommy Lee Jones and Ato Essandoh in Jason Bourne

So he was playing a doctor in a soap opera and he had a bunch of scenes with a 5-year-old kid and he goes you know who that 5-year-old was? Laurence Fishburne. I said man Laurence Fishburne when he was 5-years-old. He’s a legend. He’s a real funny, sharp, witty guy so it was a lot of fun to work with him.

 

It would have been funnier if he said like Morgan Freeman. The whole joke that we’ve never seen Morgan Freeman when he was young. 

I know. I would have been shocked man.

How did you prepare for the role? Did you have training?

I knew I’d be running around a little bit so I was working out at the gym and just running on the treadmill, which helped because that scene where I’m chasing Bourne around the casino that ended up being hours and hours of shooting. Running down, chasing Matt Damon and literally jumping over people who I didn’t recognize, so if I hadn’t been stretching, working out, and doing some yoga I would be broken, it was hard. This is my first action movie. Action movies are hard; it’s no joke.

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The Matt Damon’s, Will Smith’s, and Bruce Willis’ of the world, that stuff is really hard to do. We don’t appreciate it because we don’t really think about it, but you have to be in a certain amount of shape and have certain stamina to be able to do all of that stuff. It’s not like a coffee-room drama where you’re just siting there talking to someone at a coffee table. This is straight up running and acting, and you’re tired and you have to do it again because you need to get it from a new angle. It was really eye-opening for me. I’m not ready to do another one.

I can imagine, I’m sure. The blog I work for is called Stuff Fly People Like. So if you were an agent give me three fly gadgets you’d want in the field.

Night vision goggles is number one. Some kind of mini-drone that can fly anywhere, that’s smaller than a cellphone with x-ray vision would be number two. The third one, I’d want one of those wing suits so if I have to get away from some people and I just happen to be on top of a mountain I’d just jump off the mountain and be like fly!

That’s sounds like a video game character, it really does. Now, the Academy announced they’re taking steps to build diversity. Recently they invited the largest number into the Academy, 683; and 48% of the invitees are people of color and 46% are women. Do you feel Hollywood is finally going in the right direction? Do you feel this is a big step?

Absolutely, because it doesn’t make sense for it to be a monoculture because everyone goes to see movies. I would understand if only white people went to see movies and only white straight men went to see movies but we need the diversity and the organicness that’s a representation of an array of people. The people who are controlling the industry and moving the industry forward need to represent the actual people who go and see the movies. So it makes complete sense that you get a whole bunch of women in there and a whole bunch of people of color in there because we’re also going into those movie theaters and paying for those tickets.

What was it like working with Paul Greengrass? How was the experience?

I had to bone up on my knowledge of English premier league soccer because although I love watching football I don’t know all the teams in England. If you don’t know all the teams in England he kind of looks at you like, “who are you?” He’s a lovely guy with infinite patience and it was great working with him. I just kept looking at him like I can’t believe I’m in a Bourne movie with Paul Greengrass directing it and he’d just be like, “Aww man, come on.”

Paul Greengrass Image copyright Getty Images
Paul Greengrass Image copyright Getty Images

I still email him every once in a while just to say, “Hey what’s up?” He’s just that sort of open, and cool, and nice. I think he’s a great, great filmmaker. I know I’m in it so I’m suppose to say this, but I really think it’s one of the best action movies I’ve seen in a long time.

 

Yes, I agree with you. It was really good.  

All the stuff that happens in the movie they’re not just doing just to show you that they can blow up stuff or they can have car chases. Everything that happens in the movie is for a reason. Which is unlike other action films where you can tell they’re blowing crap up because they want to show you they can blow crap up, so it stops making sense. You lose all the suspense because all of that stuff is going to blow up just to show you, but this is like Jason Bourne has to get from here to here. This is what he has to do to get there. It makes for great story telling. Greengrass has a fantastic eye for that.

Jason Bourne hits theaters this FRIDAY, stay tuned for our FLY Review of Bourne’s latest adventure.

Stay Fly!

PHOTOS: Getty Images, Universal Pictures

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Categories
Entertainment The Daily Word

The Word: Sylvester Stallone Told Creed Director Ryan Coogler He Was Ready To Boycott Oscars

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Rocky was down for the cause, he revealed recently to reporters at the annual Oscar nominees luncheon Entertainment Weekly reports.

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Sylvester Stallone revealed that he was willing to sit out the Academy Awards in support of change in the Academy.

Stallone on what he said to Creed director Ryan Coogler:

I remember I spoke with Ryan Coogler when this [#OscarsSoWhite controversy] happened. I said, ‘Ryan how do you want to handle this? Because I really believe you are responsible for me being here,

Michael Jordan, every time I looked in his eyes as an actor, I said, he was making me better. I think he should’ve been given a lot more respect and attention.

Coogler’s response as told by Stallone:

Sly, just go there, try to represent the film, and we feel you deserve it. Eventually things will change.’

Stallone says he reiterated his point:

I said, ‘If you want me to go I’ll go, if you don’t, I won’t.

Coogler insisted:

No I want you to go.’ That’s the kind of guy he is. He wants us to go and represent the film.

This recent revelation comes on the heels of the controversial moment where Stallone forget to mention both Coogler and Jordan in his acceptance speech after his Golden Globe win. Twitter immediately hopped all over Stallone for the blunder, he did come back on the stage and apologized and thanked both of them.

We salute Stallone for standing with the talented director and actor, he clearly feels they should be honored as well. It was extremely dope of Sylvester Stallone to even consider of passing on what could be a huge moment in his acting career for the sake of necessary change.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

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Entertainment

On The Gram: The Internet Casts Stacey Dash Back To The Fire From Which She Came With Memes!

Stacey Dash

If Stacey Dash thought she was going to get away, unscathed from her ridiculous comments she was sadly mistaken. The internet plays no games when you say something that’s just outright stupid. The clueless actress and yes the pun is indeed intended, spoke on Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee’s decision to skip The Oscars due to the outrage of the awards show lack of diversity. What really ruffled everyone’s feathers was when Dash said that Black History Month, BET and The Image Awards are forms of segregation.

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BET and Stephen Hill quickly snapped back at Dash on Instagram:

Thus opening the flood gates to the well deserved slander that came her way. Peep the hilarious memes directed towards Dash in the gallery below.

 

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Entertainment The Daily Word

The Daily Word: Stacey Dash Thinks BET and Black History Month Are A Form of Segregation!

Stacey Dash

*Kanye West voice* Stacey Dash doesn’t care about black people nor does she like them. Stacey Dash continues to spew out nonsense all in the name of soundbites and Fox News continues to supply the soap box for her to do so. This years Oscars are the talk of the nation after the nominees were revealed and were once again completely dominated by white actors and actresses.

Dash appeared on Fox and Friends to talk about the subject, which ultimately lead to most dumbest statements we have ever heard.

Dash of course didn’t agree with Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee’s decisions to boycott (Spike says he is not boycotting) the awards. Here’s what she spewed:

I think it ‘s ludicrous, because we have to make up our minds.Either we want have segregation or integration and if we don’t want segregation we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and The Image awards. Where you’re only awarded if your black, if it were the other way around we would be up in arms.  It’s a double standard.

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But wait, there’s more! She even feels that there shouldn’t be a black history month either. Dash states:

Just like there shouldn’t be a Black History Month. We’re Americans period!

Seriously she should have ended her sentence with this:

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Like everyone on that god awful news channel Stacey still found a way to blame Barack Obama for what’s going on in Hollywood in typical Republican fashion.

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It’s times like this we wished there was really a racial draft, we would trade Stacey for ANYTHING at this point, just to get her out here. You actually have to see this to believe it though.:

Of course social media had to sound off and BET repsonded on the matter. Hit the gallery to see best Twitter reactions to Stacey’s tomfoolery below:

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Entertainment

The Word: Aunt Viv (Janet Hubert) Fires Back At The Smiths, Calls Them Out On Their Hypocrisy!

Janet Hubert

The “blacktress” Janet Hubert is not here for the lets boycott The Oscars train being driven by Jada Pinkett Smith. Aunt Viv took to her Facebook page on MLK day to call out Jada and her husband Will Smith for what she considers bull you know what. We knew we was in for a treat when she started out her rant with “Ms thing” and “does your man not have a mouth of his own with which to speak ?”.

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In case you missed it, in a video posted to her Facebook page, Jada Pinkett Smith made it very clear that she and we will assume her husband Will Smith will have nothing to do with The Oscars this year. She also urged other black actors and actresses to follow her lead and do the same.

Now Jada and will are facing a lot of backlash over comments Will made about encountering race in the industry during a round-table discussion with The Hollywood Reporter. Will’s comment in question is his eluding to “racism being rare” in the industry, which understandably has people frowning at Jada and her call to boycott. Peep the interview below:

Now Jada wasn’t alone, quickly after famed director Spike Lee announced via his Instagram account he would also be boycotting The Oscars this year. Now keep in mind he did already accept his honorary Oscar already this past November. He also did touch lack of diversity in Hollywood as well at the same time. Checkout what Mr.Lee had to say on his decision to boycott below:

View this post on Instagram

#OscarsSoWhite… Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let's Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?! WTF!! It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The "Real" Battle Is. It's In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To "Turnaround" Or Scrap Heap. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With "The Green Light" Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont'd)

A post shared by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

View this post on Instagram

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – His senior photo from Morehouse College (Class of 1948) Good morning, people. With my essay " #OscarsSoWhite …Again" that I posted yesterday, it was cut off half way through. This is the remainder of it. Please read and Thank You for your love and support for the position my wife, Ms. Tonya Lewis Lee and I have taken for the upcoming 2016 Oscars. ———————— As I Said In My Honorary Oscar Acceptance Speech, It's Easier For An African-American To Be President Of The United States Than Be President Of A Hollywood Studio. Also The United States Census Bureau Released A Report Stating White Americans Will Be A Minority In America By The Year 2044. Don't You Think It's A Wise Business Decision To Have Your Product And Workforce Reflect The Diversity Of The Greatest Country On This God's Earth? I Ask, What's The Hold Up? And Please… Don't Go To The Well And Say There Are No Qualified Minority Candidates For These Green Light Gate Keeping Positions. It's Amazing How Far Sports And Music Have Moved Ahead Of Hollywood And Television, But Maybe We Can Learn From Them Too. Your Honor, I Present Exhibit A: The National Football League's Rooney Rule. It's Named After The Late Dan Rooney, Owner Of The Pittsburgh Steelers. Mr. Rooney Was Also Chairman Of The League's Diversity Committee. The Rooney Rule States NFL Teams MUST Interview Minority Candidates For The Positions Of Head Coach And Senior Football Executives Before Hires. Since Being Put In Place Before The 2006 Season, African-American Hires Have Increased. Facebook And Pinterest Have Their Own Version Of The Rooney Rule To Hire Minorities. Why Can't Hollywood Do The Same? It's Worth The Effort Or It Will Be The Same Old Hi-Jinks. I Do Hope In My Children's Lifetime Things Will Change For The Betterment Of All Americans. A Great Diverse America. Spike Lee Filmmaker Da Republic Of Brooklyn, New York MLK Day January 18th, 2016

A post shared by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

Which brings us to last night, Janet Hubert, whom is affectionately known to us all as Aunt Viv from the classic 90’s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air gave her opinion on the matter. Now if you can ignore the messenger and whether or not she is “salty”, made some valid points in the video. Hubert used her best comic book filter and called out the Smith’s for being pretty much hypocrites and wasting time on a matter that no one should really care about. Hubert also brought up in her rant an incident from the past where Will Smith only looked out for his best interest instead of the cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She also pointed out that Jada should be more focused on the current issues such as people dying, our boys dying, bills and the Oscar gripe just “ain’t that deep”.  See Janet’s entire video below:

Now again she makes some valid points, but we will let you voice your opinion on the matter. Do you think the blacktress is speaking the truth? Or is she still bitter about what happened to her on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air?  Let us know in the comment section below.

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