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If you've seen If Beale Street Could Talk then you know that it's one of the most original love stories ever put on the big screen. The film focuses on Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne), a 19-year-old pregnant woman whose life long friend and now fiancé, Fonny (Stephan James) has been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. As we follow Tish and Fonny's love story, we also see the efforts of Tish and her family to prove Fonny's innocence as the young couple struggles to keep their love alive through near impossible circumstances.
While the movie is far from a comedy, it turns out that Oscar-winning star Regina King, who plays Tish's mom Sharon, actually feels that the strong family bonds exemplified by the Rivers family (which is also comprised of Colman Domingo as dad Joseph and Teyonah Parris and sister Ernestine) remind her of those of a popular sitcom family from a classic show. Here's what King had to say:
The Rivers family is a family that exists, but even now, in 2018 when this comes out, we don't get the opportunity to see that family; where the father is there and the mother is there, and the children. You know Good Times? It's like that. That was a [TV] family in the '70s. They were poor, but there was a lot of laughter in the home, music in the home. I always say the Rivers are very similar to the Evans family!
I have to say, as I was watching the special features on the Blu-Ray for If Beale Street Could Talk (which is out now), I was very surprised to find that Regina King could make any comparison between the Rivers family in this sad, yet hopeful and lyrical love story and the Evans family from Good Times, which ran from 1974 through 1980 on CBS. But, after seeing how King manages to make the connection I can certainly understand how she came to such a conclusion.
As King mentioned, the Rivers and Evans families both share an easy closeness and are capable of having lots of fun with each other. Both families also deal with poverty and the dire circumstances that can cause, especially when things go wrong, but each group is also completely dedicated to supporting its members and showering them with as much love as possible to help them get through all the trials that life throws at them.
As you might imagine, getting a cast together that feels like a real family can be difficult, and director Barry Jenkins, who spoke about If Beale Street Could Talk during the same featurette, explained how the cast became like a real family during shooting.
Filming it, it was really important in the casting process to cast these actors who could literally, legitimately, you know, become a family. So, casting Regina King and Colman Domingo and Teyonah Parris, like, if you were on set with us you would see they all kind of huddled around KiKi, because this is KiKi's first role. She was literally the baby of the family.