I'm really excited that people are receiving my performance like this. It makes me feel good, because I've been working really hard. And this character [Idi Amin], I worked particularly hard on. But I don't want to get too caught up in it, because first of all, it could lead to a great disappointment. You never know what's going to happen.
I found the people to be very kind and generous. It was unique because the crew was mainly Ugandan [filming The Last King of Scotland]. They had never done a film before. So, they were learning the process of making films, but at the same time they were also helping with the authenticity of the film.
The other night I was walking down the stairs behind one of my daughters. I was tired, and she was goofing around, you know like kids do, doing all this stupid stuff on the stairs. And I was thinking, please just go down the stairs and let's get you to bed. It's after your bedtime. I've had enough for one day. And then I sort of caught myself. I snapped out of it. I was like, 'dude, you should be dancing down the stairs behind her'!
There was a time in my acting career, where I was trying to figure out if acting was the thing to do. You know? I was always on this journey of trying to learn more about humanity and people - using the characters and situations as guideposts. I could switch up and do another job as long as I'm continuing that same search and that same journey of revealing my connection to humanity and the universe. And directing gives me the opportunity to explore ALL these different lives and their connection to their environments and the people. And I get to connect to the wires of the universe.
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Filming in Africa touched something really deep inside of me, really. It changed my matrix, my insides. My blood even feels kinda different. I don't know how to describe it. It's really kind of Eucharistic. I feel like I ate the place and now it's part of my system, part of my being. I'm not claiming that now I know what it's like to be African, but that now I have a deeper understanding of myself.
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Things are shifting; man is evolving in many different ways. The Internet has created a portal for people to connect with each other in a way they never could have before. When it comes to African-American or black films, it's different because there is a model that you can actually look at, an equation that shows that these films earn money.
On the very last day of shooting [of The Last King of Scotlang], I remember wanting to get the [Idi Amin] character out of me right away, as much as I could. You literally take a bath to wash him off you. Luckily, I went into another part not so long afterwards, so I was kind of able to push it away a little bit. But speech patterns, and little sounds, particularly colloquial things, like the way you ask questions or might respond, were sticking with me, probably because I'd worked so hard to make it a part of my everyday way of expressing myself.
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I think that cinema and the arts are central in our lives because we grow up and learn about the world through our exposure to stories. Parents use them as a tool to teach their children fundamental truths and values, much as adults can view them to gain exposure to cultures and individuals that they'd never be able to view in their own lives.
As human beings, we all have reasons for our behavior. There may be people who have certain physiological issues that dictate why they make certain choices. On the whole, though, I think we're dictated by our structure, our past, our environment, our culture. So once you understand the patterns that shape a person, how can you not find sympathy?
It's important for youth, black youths particularly, to be able to fill in the blanks of themselves so they can know completely who they are, but also all the country to understand what this means: what the civil rights movement does to us as people. It is part of the journey that we must be on in order to become fully evolved human beings.
You try to pull away the experiences until you get to the core of humanity, and you find that light that exists in everybody. It's that light that I'm searching for in all of my work - is that connective thing, that ether that enters all of us - you know what I mean? That's a part of God.
I submerged myself in all the information that I could find about Idi Amin. I mean, before I left Los Angeles, I was studying Kiswahili. I was working on the dialect. I was studying every documentary and tape of him that I could find - not just visual, but also audiocassettes, even in other languages when he was speaking in other dialects.