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Almost 700 years after his death, the story of William Wallace and his heroic battle against the forces of Edward I was told in sweeping cinematic fashion by actor / director Mel Gibson, in his legendary epic Braveheart. With such a huge undertaking, as both an actor and a director for a film so massive, Gibson undoubtedly could have run himself ragged. Except he didn't, and he kept himself in fighting form by setting aside some "me time," a strategy that he eventually passed down to The Birth of a Nation's star / co-writer / director, Nate Parker.
Parker had recently spent some time with Variety, so as to discuss a wide range of subjects that had been in the spotlight ever since The Birth of a Nation had first gathered buzz earlier this year. Sure enough, as Nate Parker had started to put together his ambitious project, which chronicles the Nat Turner rebellion, Gibson called to offer the best advice he could. With Parker already talking to other directors in town, Mel Gibson must have heard Parker was looking for advice, and as such he delivered the following pearl of wisdom, recounted by Nate Parker himself:
His best advice was don't work on Sunday. He said: 'You need a day off you're going to direct yourself. I did this for seven months on Braveheart. You need time for recovery and reflection --- just sitting, drinking tea.'
To be merely an actor or a director on a major motion picture is difficult enough, but to take on both roles at the same time is asking for double the trouble, with no one to run to but yourself. So, naturally, it's the pinnacle of difficulty for Mel Gibson or Nate Parker to take on serious, historical epics that require the research and dedication to stay true to the facts. But with some extra motivation, and one special day a week to recover and regroup, films like The Birth of a Nation are possible, and look as good as they do in the trailer below.
Much like Braveheart before it, The Birth of a Nation has built itself a reputation with awards and industry insiders alike. With the film already being short-listed in the public consciousness as an awards contender, Nate Parker is going to need more than just a Sunday every week to keep himself composed. If he thought making a movie was difficult, just wait until he has to pitch it to The Academy!
As for the viewing public at large, they'll be able to see what the fuss is all about when The Birth of a Nation hits theaters on October 7.