Sound Bite: Jurnee Smollett, Nate Parker & Denzel Whitaker – On preparing for the role
Parker – Well, um, Denzel was very adamant about us being accurate us being honest, so he developed this camp with Dr. Freeman at Texas Southern University, who was one of the best in the country, where we’d come in and learn the actual infrastructure of debate. We learned, you know, parliamentary impromptu, so you know, and I think it was instrumental because then we could go in front of the camera with these amazingly written monologues and speeches and be able to deliver them, deliver them intelligently.
Sound Bite: Jurnee Smollett, Nate Parker & Denzel Whitaker – On Denzel Washington
Smollett – He had a huge influence on our careers.
Parker – Absolutely.
Whitaker – I mean I still idolize him, even after doing this role. I mean, such a such a generous man, such a humble man, and and you know filled with knowledge, knowledge and passion for whatever he does, I mean how can you help to not take note after him.
Smollett – And he was such a great collaborator, you know. He didn’t walk into the room and try to intimidate anyone, or try to steal scenes or anything like that. He was there at the end of the day devoted to the project. Like at the end of the day, he checked his ego at the door, and the only thing that was important was doing justice to the project.
Parker – Right.
Sound Bite: Jurnee Smollett, Nate Parker & Denzel Whitaker – More on Washington
Smollett – He’s funny ha ha ha.
Parker – And he’s humble. I mean it’s something to be said about humility and integrity. And these are things as a young man, you know looked hoping to have a career in thirty-five years, I look up to these things, and he he never let me down. And every moment off-screen, you saw his integrity, you saw the way he carried himself. You know, and that was inspiring to me especially.
Smollett – Yeah, definitely.
Sound Bite: Jurnee Smollett, Nate Parker & Denzel Whitaker – On the era the film takes place in
Whitaker – It’s depressing, really. It’s disturbing to see how America was and and just, you feel shame and pity on that as societies we were like that. And to me I feel that we progress you know pretty well in today’s society, and I just feel that looking back if I was to live in that era, I don’t know how they did it. Like our people that we’re actually portraying, James Farmer Jr. and Henrietta ? Wells, I don’t know how they did it cause you know they were extraordinary for what they did in times and how they voiced their opinions.
Sound Bite: Jurnee Smollett, Nate Parker & Denzel Whitaker – The character she plays
Smollett – Yes, my character was inspired by the life of Henrietta Wells. She’s a ninety-six year old woman who uh is still alive and has become like a grandmother to me. I mean, I was fortunate enough to meet her through this project, you know. And I interviewed her as much as I could, went and stayed with her as much as I could, and she really really helped me out a lot.
Description: The Great Debaters Junket Jurnee Smollett, Nate Parker & Denzel Whitaker Interview
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