A lot of things happened in 2020, from the pandemic to the political protests and everything in between. For one star of One Night in Miami, the Black Lives Matter movement and protests against police brutality resonated particularly deep while he was working on the film. Eli Goree who portrays Cassius Clay (before he became Muhammad Ali) called his experience recording ADR for One Night in Miami days after George Floyd 'surreal.'
Directed by Regina King and starring Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X, Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke and Aldis Hodge as Jim Brown alongside Eli Goree’s Cassius Clay, One Night in Miami packs a big punch. Not only are we treated with show-stopping performances by all members of the cast, but the script discusses civil rights in the eyes of each of these legendary men in 1964. The crazy part is many of the lines could’ve just as easily been talking about the world today. When asked about this in an interview with CinemaBlend, Eli Goree said:
It meant a lot to me, especially during ADR was literally days, when I did my first ADR, I saw Kingsley saying, you know ‘Black people are literally dying in the streets every day’ it was days after George Floyd. So it was a very surreal experience and I think as Black people and as a Black man, you know, this is something that’s always high stakes. You’re always concerned about the police. This is not new. You’re always concerned about violence and these types of things in your community. This is not new, but just the way it’s kind of exploded onto the mainstream media, it definitely resonates in a different way.
Wow. I can’t even imagine going over that dialogue days after George Floyd’s death. The tension in the scene Eli Goree mentioned is palpable, and it almost doesn’t matter if the actors have tapped that deeply into their character’s feelings or if they broke character and were having the discussion on their own, because the gravity of the subject and the emotions are the same. It’s great to have a timely and relevant film, but not so much when it holds relevance due to a negative part of history repeating itself.
That being said, actors are professionals, and even if it was hard they were able to emotionally connect with the material and deliver a really beautiful film. One Night in Miami is the feature film debut for Regina King after much experience directing television, and she told the hell out of this story. Most of the film takes place in a single hotel room with the four leading men, which gives a nice intimate feel. However, you’ll notice the more complicated scenes with a lot more people, such as the boxing ring or the various venues where Sam Cooke performs, feel just as intimate.