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Tyrese Gibson is best known for his time on screen in big actions movies; mostly franchises like the Transformers films and much of the long-running Fast & Furious series. But, the actor has a new film, Black and Blue, starring Oscar nominee Naomie Harris (Moonlight), coming out next month that will show a different side of the performer that many of us haven't seen in theaters for a while. While Black and Blue is an action movie, the focus is on the characters who drive the story forward, more than how many things get blown up.
When the cast and director of Black and Blue sat down with CinemaBlend and other outlets during a break in filming, Gibson spoke about why he was ready to step away from the big budget action franchises again, and why Black and Blue was the perfect vehicle (no pun intended) for a change. And, it turns out that hearing from director Deon Taylor that Naomie Harris was attached to star helped Gibson make his decision.
Literally on our first conversation he mentioned Naomie Harris, who was the only one attached at the time. And I was saying to Deon, and he knows this from real conversations, when you’re a part of big franchises, it’s a gift [but] sometimes it can work against you. Because, these dramatic, dark, uncomfortable roles that really require you to go there and peel back the layers - nothing blowing up, no cars turning over, no big explosions and CG - you get overlooked sometimes as an actor. They’ll say, ‘Oh, he’s that guy from that thing.’ And, so, the seriousness of a Naomie got me in the game off top, because I was ready to make this type of statement.
Tyrese Gibson is certainly correct about Black and Blue being "dramatic, dark" and "uncomfortable." The movie focuses on Harris' rookie New Orleans cop, Alicia West, who's out on the job when she sees some of her fellow police offers murder a drug dealer. While she manages to get away from them after they try to kill her as well, they realize that not only did she see the entire incident, but everything was captured on her body cam. Obviously, they have no intention of letting Alicia, or that footage, see the light of day.
So, this group of crooked cops is after Alicia, but they also decide to tell every criminal in the city that she's the one who killed the dealer and have a kingpin (played by Luke Cage's Mike Colter) put a price on her head. While she's being pursued by dirty cops and all the enterprising criminals in New Orleans, she relies on her reluctant old friend Milo “Mouse” Jackson (Gibson) to help her evade capture so she can upload the body cam footage and expose the crime.
Black and Blue is a "run all night" kind of movie, so while there are certainly impressive stunts, fights and action sequences, as he said on set, the point of those scenes isn't having the biggest explosion or the most realistic CGI. Every moment is about exploring police corruption and the responsibility we all have to do the right thing, sometimes no matter the cost to ourselves. And, as Gibson was ready to have a role really make a statement again, knowing that someone of Naomie Harris' caliber involved sealed the deal for him when it came to this film.
Gibson has enjoyed a lot of success as a cast member of some of the biggest franchises of the 2000s, having joined the Fast and Furious crew with the 2003 movie 2 Fast 2 Furious. But, as we've heard from many actors before, when you become known for one type of role (or one role specifically), or a certain kind of movie, it can be very easy to get typecast and not receive the kinds of opportunities you'd like to break out and do something different so that you can continue to stretch your acting muscles.
While Tyrese Gibson made it known several years ago that he'd love to take on a popular superhero role for Warner Bros. should the opportunity arise, and he's also said to have a major part in Morbius, which will expand Sony's big screen Marvel universe, he was itching for something that would let him "peel back the layers." And, it looks like Black and Blue was just the kind of movie Gibson had been hoping for.
As you can likely tell, the story of Black and Blue is pretty deep, and while Gibson was looking for a film role where he wouldn't get lost in all the noise of busy action scenes so his talents would be appreciated, he also said that the way Black and Blue plays out as the story develops also attracted him:
It’s layered, it’s real, it’s dark. It’s got the grit of a Training Day. It’s not cheesy; it ain’t no corny little one-liners. It doesn’t warrant a chuckle. It keeps you vulnerable and it stays intense the entire time. There were certain names being thrown around on a casting level, and I was just grateful it didn’t work out for certain people because I wanted it to stay as intense as it is, and that’s real. It’s a space that I’ve been praying to get back into.
There is certainly a part of me that's dying to know who Tyrese Gibson didn't want in Black and Blue, but since he can sometimes get into intense public conversations with actors that he is co-starring with, it's probably best that he kept mum on those details. Luckily, though, Black and Blue was able to maintain its Training Day level of grit, so that we can enjoy a more serious side of Gibson before much longer.