Wesley Snipes on the Brotherly Bond at the Center of ‘True Story’
Snipes’ character Carlton is a Philadelphia native who is trying to make it in the world that previously belonged to Kid (Hart) when there were both growing up. Now separated by wealth and success, Carlton dwells in the big shadow that his little brother casts when visiting their old stomping grounds.
When they find themselves swept up in a string of criminal behavior, that metaphorical tower Kid lives in now begins to wobble and it’s Carlton’s job to set it straight. Below, Snipes opens up about what swayed him to join the project helmed by Eric Newman (Narcos, Narcos: Mexico), Carlton’s character and bond with Kevin Hart’s Kid, along with much more.
What initially drew you to this project and working with Kevin Hart and Eric Newman?
Wesley Snipes: Yes, Eric Newman. I wanted to work with him and his team. I thought the first seasons of Narcos were fantastic. I watched it twice from beginning to end and [this was an] opportunity for me to [finally work with him]. I put it out there that I was a fan of the show and they offered me an opportunity to feature in another season of Narcos, but it didn’t work out.
He’s extremely, extremely talented and I like his dad too (Eric Newman is the son of composer and singer-songwriter Randy Newman). When they said, “Hey, Eric is supporting Kevin on this and it’s a drama and Kevin wants to do something outside of the norm.” [I said, “okay, let’s go. Let’s see what happens.”
What should viewers know about your character Carlton before tuning in? Who is he?
Carlton is a survivor. He’s one of those guys who’s trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents, you know? He has a dream and there’s a lot of cats out there who have the dream, [but didn’t] have the right timing. Sometimes he didn’t have enough of what it takes to fulfill that dream, but he doesn’t stop dreaming. Somehow, sooner or later, [he figures] if I keep throwing the dice I’m going to win at some point, you know? That’s Carlton. Even if he borrows money from everybody, he keeps hope alive.
Carlton constantly reminds Kid that he’s his older brother and that he’s always got Kid’s back. Is he being genuine?
There’s a backstory that in the early days Kevin’s character was protected by Carlton and Carlton was the dude. He was the big brother. He had the juice on the street and did some things to look out for his little brother that complicated his life dramatically. So he’s always feeling like at the end of the day I was there for you and I took care of things that you couldn’t take care of back in those days. I stopped you from getting your ass beat and you owe me, don’t forget that.
Did you have any input on Carlton as a character, or was everything scripted?
No, everything I did was scripted. We had a great collaboration. It probably would’ve been less stressful and less peculiar if we had not been under the COVID restrictions. COVID put a real spin on the whole creative process and performing and how much time that we could spend with each other.
I mean, going back to the Mo’ Better Blues days, the actors, me, Denzel [Washington], Giancarlo [Esposito], we actually had instruments, and we could carry them with us. We would go to restaurants as a band, none of us could play, but we went to the restaurant, and that was a part of the bonding process. COVID restrictions don’t give you that opportunity.
Did you do anything else to try and build those bonds without as much in-person time?
We had some good conversations, we exchanged workout equipment because we both appreciate staying in shape. He gave me a big piece of equipment. I gave him a little piece of equipment. That was sort of the bonding that we did [Laughs].
The show moves at a pretty quick pace, what was the filming process like?
The show was challenging. It was challenging to shoot this kind of show under the COVID conditions and I would say I’m also film-oriented. So the process that we use in film, you can’t use that in this kind of environment of a limited series. That was somewhat new to me and I think it was also new to some of the directors, the crew, and producers. There were definitely some challenging moments, but that’s the magic, to make it invisible.
True Story, Streaming now, Netflix