Naomie Harris' new action-packed police drama Black and Blue focuses on some deep topics. Subjects like corrupt cops, gang and criminal activity, body cam footage and doing the right thing no matter the personal cost all come into play in the film, and Harris' character, Alicia West, has to deal with all of these things head-on over the course of the movie.
When I spoke to the film's director, Deon Taylor, ahead of the release for the first trailer, he told me he had some very specific reasons as to why Harris was the perfect lead to carry all that intense subject matter on her shoulders.
Oh, 'cause she's incredible. When we were looking to cast the film, obviously there were some choices that you could have made where we were like, 'Aw, I know who that is' or 'Aw, I love her.' This was really a decision of who is the most dynamic and powerful actress that I can grab right now? I wanted someone that the audience could be like, 'Yo, who is this girl?' and then [realize] 'Oh, that's the girl from...' I thought that was really fresh for us to do.
While Deon Taylor lays out the fact that he loves the work that Naomie Harris has done previously (and this no doubt includes her Oscar nominated turn in 2016's Moonlight), he also notes that a strong factor in wanting her to lead Black and Blue was the fact that she's not always immediately recognizable.
The scope of her work on screen has led to Harris being the type of performer who you could have easily seen in several projects, but still watch her in Black and Blue with fresh eyes and without having any of those past performances impact the character she portrays here. And, something like that is not always an easy task when you're talking about someone who's been working in this industry at a high level for over two decades.
Taylor is also eager to tell everyone that Harris is able to bring the right qualities to her character in Black and Blue. Alicia is a rookie cop who accidentally witnesses some of her colleagues murder a drug dealer, and catches the misdeed on her body cam. After evading their initial attempt to then kill her, she's pursued through New Orleans over one intense night as she tries to get the footage in the right hands and take down the crooked cops.
As you might imagine, Taylor needed someone special to fill the role of Alicia, and here's the other reason he believes Harris is that person:
And, she's powerful. I mean, in this era where we have a lot of movie stars, I think Naomie is a thespian. She's someone that...when you're done with the film, she's still living with it a month or two after. That's what [we] wanted in this movie.