Category: Article

Press: Aldis Hodge Takes off in ‘Clemency’

Friday, Jan 10, 2020

HEMISPHERES MAGAZINE – Where You’ve Seen Him: Playing a real-life football player wrongfully convicted of rape in last summer’s Brian Banks, an assistant district attorney fighting police corruption on Showtime’s City on a Hill, and a fiercely independent slave named Noah in the WGN America series Underground.

Origins: The North Carolina–born son of two former Marines got his first big acting break at the age of 5, when he and his brother were cast on Sesame Street. “That was pretty cool, going to work every day to see Big Bird and Elmo and Oscar the Grouch,” says Hodge, now 33. “You’re living in the fantasy of this being your reality every day.”

Changing Course: At age 14, Hodge, already fed up with typecasting in Hollywood, made a commitment to avoid stereotypical roles. “For a while, all the auditions I was getting were thug this, thug that, and I realized that if we keep supporting that idea, that’s how people will continue to look at us,” he says. On his 21st birthday, he landed his breakout role as a brainy hacker on TNT’s Leverage. “I would have tons of black men, women, and young kids come up to me and say, ‘Thank God someone’s finally showing what we’re capable of.’”

Star Turn: In the drama Clemency (in theaters now), Hodge takes on his most complex role to date: death-row inmate Anthony Woods. The film, which also stars Alfre Woodard as a stoic warden, won the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Sundance Film Festival—the first time a black female director (Chinonye Chukwu) has received that honor. Hodge admits that Anthony’s journey is an emotional roller-coaster, but he points out that the experience is unsettling by design. “Our director would never tell me whether or not he did it,” Hodge says. “I don’t want the audience to see him through the lens of the death row condition. I want them to see a human being and see if they can empathize with that human being.”

Up Next: A self-taught horologist, Hodge is hoping to start his own watch brand soon. “I’m building a legacy to pass down to my kids,” he says. He is also honing his behind-the-scenes skills as a producer: “I want to put myself in a position where I can start creating jobs for other people.” More selfishly? “I would love to strap on some tights and do the superhero thing!”

Press: Content Mode Interview

Friday, Jan 10, 2020

CONTENT MODEYour first acting credit came at a young age. Tell me what your childhood was like growing up juggling schoolwork and auditions.

My childhood was great. Not always easy, but definitely great. I was being raised by a mom who believed in my dream enough to support it, along with great siblings to share it with. When we experienced troubling times of poverty, we got through it together, and that’s what made it survivable.

School was at the mercy of the dreams we chased. Public school turned into homeschool, which then turned into college for me at the age of 14. My pathway through academia was as nuanced as my career choice.

In past interviews, you’ve mentioned that you were type cast in certain roles as a teenager. Tell me how you broke out of that cycle. Did it affect the direction of your career?

I broke out by simply invoking the power to say “No”. I refused to go on those auditions and, though the sacrifice of the lack of jobs was felt early, it eventually paid off. Without making that decision, I wouldn’t be getting the caliber of work that I’ve been fortunate enough to grab onto over these past few years.

If you could go back and give your younger self any career advice, what would it be?

Believe in your full potential, and don’t be afraid to express yourself to the fullest. As an artist, only worry about satisfying your honest intent when you create. You can’t allow the opinions of others to dictate your passion.

2015-2016 was arguably a pivotal year in your career, appearing in both Straight Outta Compton and Hidden Figures, two films that received both critical acclaim and box office success. What was the experience like for you? How did you keep grounded during this period?

The experiences were simply great educations about how we are able to fully impact people in a huge way with our art. Each film took on a life of its own through our audiences, and it was quite special to observe and be a part of.

Staying grounded comes from having an awareness that it’s not directly about you and never will be. You didn’t accomplish this feat alone. Having a great foundation of family at home helps. And also understanding that when people boast about the supposed “power” you have, what they really mean is the great “responsibility” you have to the audience, to the craft and most importantly, to yourself. As long as you don’t forget the work you have to do, you won’t go astray.

Continue reading Press: Content Mode Interview

Press: ‘Clemency’ Star Really Did Bang His Head in Key Death Row Prison Scene

Friday, Jan 10, 2020

 

THE WRAP – TheWrap Oscar magazine: “I misjudged my distance, but it was worth it,” the actor says

This story about Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever first appeared in the Actors/Directors/Screenwriters issue of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine.

Aldis Hodge had a mission in 2019 for his acting career: to find roles that challenged the status quo. As the calendar turns to 2020, it’s safe to say he accomplished that goal.

At the start of the year, Hodge left audiences at Sundance stunned silent in “Clemency,” Chinonye Chukwu’s jury prize-winning drama about how enforcing the death penalty not only dehumanizes and emotionally destroys the condemned but also takes a spiritual toll on those who carry out the execution. Hodge goes to extremes as death row inmate Anthony Woods, from violently attempting to take his death into his own hands to shutting down completely as the prison warden, played by Alfre Woodard, calmly explains how the state will kill him.

“For Anthony Woods, that scene where he tries to kill himself is the most dignity he could possibly give himself,” Hodge said. “I did seriously hit my head, though. I misjudged my distance, but it was worth it because every audience I’ve seen that scene with has the exact same reaction and they can see what it’s really like in there.”

To prepare for the role, Hodge took a tour of San Quentin with prison inmates serving life sentences. He was shown the execution chamber and the machine used to administer lethal injection but was not allowed to speak with any of the death row inmates. Such isolation factored into Hodge’s performances, as he noted that it is just another way that those sentenced to death are dehumanized.

“There’s differences in how the death row inmates are treated all the way down to their dying breath. Anthony was in that process for 15 years by the time we meet him in the film. One can only imagine how you find faith, hope and belief when you’re sitting there, waiting for death.”

“Clemency” is one of three roles Hodge has taken this year that challenges our society’s sense of justice. He also starred in the true-story drama “Brian Banks” about a former football prospect whose life was destroyed by a false rape accusation. He’s also tackled how racism in the criminal justice system affects those who enforce it in the Showtime series “City on a Hill,” in which he plays a Boston district attorney trying to do seek justice in a power structure dominated by white men.

“I just went with the nature of the roles that crossed my path,” he said. “For me as an actor, I hope to be part of a progressive conversation that challenges how we live our daily lives. These roles sort of lined up and I went with the flow of things, but they’re all roles in stories that I’m proud to be a part of.”

 

 

Press: Aldis Hodge Talks ‘City on a Hill,’ His Favorite Boston Spots and More

Friday, Aug 9, 2019

 

BOSTON COMMON – After acclaimed performances in What Men Want and Clemency, actor Aldis Hodge continues his big year with City on a Hill. Debuting June 16 on Showtime, the drama stars Hodge and Kevin Bacon as a pair of law enforcement officers taking on corruption in Boston. “This show is going to be fire,” Hodge promises. We chatted with the actor about the series, working with executive producers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and even food.

What made you want to get involved with City on a Hill?

I love the show because it’s gritty and raw. We’re dealing with Boston in the ’90s, crooked cops and robbers, that kind of thing. What really captures me about the show is that regardless of the scenario and what brought us all together, we’re still dealing with the life of Boston. We’re dealing with these people as representations of the life of Boston and how harsh it can be or has been for some.

Did you enjoy filming in Boston? Find any favorite spots around town?

I grew up between New York and New Jersey, and I had family in Boston. We would go up to Boston in the winters. I have no idea why the winters, because they were terribly cold. Boston’s changed a little bit, but I will say my favorite place that I hit was Ostra. The first place that Kevin and I met and had dinner at was Ostra. We had a fantastic conversation and got to know one another, but the food was brilliant. I was there a couple times a week. Their sauces are fantastic.

How involved were Matt and Ben?

This whole idea was really born in Ben Affleck’s head. They were both completely involved. Ben’s actually been on set a couple of times. It would be nice to actually see him direct. That would be really cool. What are your favorite Boston movies? Of course, I love Good Will Hunting [written and starring Damon and Affleck]. I also really like The Town [Affleck starred and directed]. I thought it was done really well. Then again, The Departed [Damon starred in] is damn good, man. It’d be a toss up between those.

Press: Aldis Hodge Is A Real-Life Superhero, So Give This Man What He Wants

Friday, Aug 9, 2019

After years of dramatic roles, the “What Men Want” star wants to make you laugh and fulfill his dreams of being a super-powered badass

 


 
BET – Legend has it that Aldis Hodge worked cheap early in his career. Really cheap. Like, McDonald’s Happy Meal cheap. The pre-schooler was tagging along on a photo shoot for Ebony Magazine, where his older brother, Edwin, was working. The producers had a last-minute need for another cute kid and Aldis’ mother convinced him to take the gig in exchange for a coveted Batman toy. Thanks to mom’s quick thinking, Hollywood has been gifted one of its most intense and versatile acting talents.

Hodge has amassed a colorful acting resume that includes stints on shows like A.T.O.M.: Alpha Teens on Machines, Friday Night Lights, Supernatural and Leverage. But it was his moving portrayal of a restless slave named Noah on WGN’s Underground that made viewers sit up at attention and cheer with their fingers across social media. In the same year his appearance in Black Mirror as a somewhat single father named Jack living with his girlfriend’s voice literally in his head, allowed him to blend his piercing stares with subdued comedic timing. But now Hodge gets to go for the full belly laughs in the R-rated comedy What Men Want as the bartending, romantic, very single father named Will, who gets caught up in Taraji P. Henson’s mind-reading male-strom.

During a stop at BET, Hodge is adorned in gold, beads and denim fabrics that accent flawless skin that has benefited from the sun’s full attention. He walks with squared shoulders inherited from his retired Marine parents. His cape is invisible. If not for the disarming laughs cracking his intense looks, you might think he’s one cartoonish horn blare away from taking off through the ceiling to catch a meteor hurtling toward earth. Between bites of his lunch we talk about the comedy of sex, his fascination with controlling time, engineering the perfect date and being a champion for the people.

 

It was kind of meta for you to have your thoughts read by Ali in What Men Want, because in the “Black Museum” episode of Black Mirror your lover was LITERALLY in Jack’s head. Did you draw on that experience at all for this role?
Continue reading Press: Aldis Hodge Is A Real-Life Superhero, So Give This Man What He Wants

Press/Video: Star Trek: Short Treks “Calypso” – Teaser Trailer

Saturday, Oct 27, 2018

IGN – It’s a great time to be a Star Trek fan. Not only do we have the second season of Star Trek: Discovery coming this January from CBS All Access, but there’s also a new show in the works featuring the return of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, several other rumored projects on the table, and a series of short films, dubbed Short Treks, rolling out on the streaming service as a lead-in to Discovery’s return. And today IGN has the exclusive teaser trailer for the next of those shorts, “Calypso.” Check out the trailer above!

Here’s the official logline for “Calypso”:

After waking up in an unfamiliar sickbay, Craft (Aldis Hodge) finds himself onboard a deserted ship, and his only companion and hope for survival is an A.I. computer interface.

Written by Michael Chabon, with a story by Sean Cochran and Chabon, and diirected by Olatunde Osunsanmi, “Calypso” already has a high pedigree based solely on the fact that Chabon is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. He’s also working on the Picard series, so his time in the Trek universe is just beginning.

We’ve also got an exclusive new image (seen above) of Aldis Hodge as Craft, who is a new character in the Star Trek pantheon. Unlike the other Short Treks coming this year, which deal with pre-existing characters Tilly, Saru and Harry Mudd, “Calypso” is focused on Craft and what, based on this teaser trailer, appears to be a mischievous or very human-like computer.

Also of note in the teaser is the title card which says “1,000 Years After Discovery.” The short appears to be set on the Discovery, or a Discovery sister ship perhaps, so how is this happening a thousand years in the future?!

We’ll have to watch “Calypso” when it debuts on CBS All Access on Thursday, November 8, to find out!

Press: ‘Star Trek: Short Treks’ Set At CBS All Access Ahead Of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Return

Saturday, Sep 22, 2018

 

DEADLINE – The Star Trek franchise is expanding on CBS All Access. The streaming service has announced Star Trek: Short Treks, four stand-alone short stories that will begin rolling out on Thursday, October 4 ahead of the early 2019 Season 2 return of Star Trek: Discovery.

Each of the four stories will center on a key character, including familiar faces from Star Trek: Discovery: Mary Wiseman (Tilly), Doug Jones (Saru) and Rainn Wilson (Harry Mudd), in a short he will also direct, as well as a new character unfamiliar to fans, Craft, played by Aldis Hodge.

Star Trek: Discovery follows the voyages of Starfleet on their missions to discover new worlds and new life forms, and one Starfleet officer who must learn that to truly understand all things alien, you must first understand yourself. The series features a new ship and new characters while embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation of dreamers and doers. The series is produced by CBS Television Studios, Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment.

Descriptions and premiere dates of the four installments follow below.

RunawayThursday, Oct. 4

Onboard the U.S.S. Discovery, Ensign Tilly (Mary Wiseman) encounters an unexpected visitor in need of help. However, this unlikely pair may have more in common than meets the eye.

Written by Jenny Lumet & Alex Kurtzman. Directed by Maja Vrvilo.

Calypso – Thursday, Nov. 8

After waking up in an unfamiliar sickbay, Craft (Aldis Hodge) finds himself on board a deserted ship, and his only companion and hope for survival is an A.I. computer interface.

Teleplay by Michael Chabon. Story by Sean Cochran and Michael Chabon. Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi.

The Brightest Star – Thursday, Dec. 6

Before he was the first Kelpien to join Starfleet, Saru (Doug Jones) lived a simple life on his home planet of Kaminar with his father and sister. Young Saru, full of ingenuity and a level of curiosity uncommon among his people, yearns to find out what lies beyond his village, leading him on an unexpected path.

Written by Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt. Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski.

The Escape Artist – Thursday, Jan. 3

Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson), back to his old tricks of stealing and double-dealing, finds himself in a precarious position aboard a hostile ship – just in time to try out his latest con.

Written by Michael McMahan. Directed by Rainn Wilson.

Press/Video: ‘Brian Banks’ First Look

Saturday, Sep 22, 2018

DEADLINE – The Los Angeles Film Festival is on the move from June to this month, where it opens on Thursday with the world premiere of the music documentary Echo in the Canyon. Over the course of the next week, the festival will be offering an array of cinematic programming of all kinds including several more world premiere features.

One of those is the locally based Brian Banks, which marks a return to narrative filmmaking by director Tom Shadyac, whose most recent work was the spiritual documentary I Am in 2010 , and whose most recent commercial film was 2007’s Evan Almighty. A powerful and inspiring film, Brian Banks is a decided departure for the man whose filmography includes Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty, Dragonfly and Eddie Murphy’s The Nutty Professor. Independently made, Brian Banks stars Aldis Hodge in the title role alog with Greg Kinnear, Sherri Shepherd, Melanie Liburd, Xosha Roquemore and Tiffany Dupont. It is produced by Shivani Rawat, Monica Levinson and Amy Baer.

The very timely and true story revolves around Brian Banks, an All-American football player already committed to USC when he is falsely accused of rape during his junior year of high school. Despite maintaining his innocence, he is railroaded through the system and sentenced to a decade of prison, parole, and registering as a sex offender. Driven by the same thoughtfulness and focus that propelled him as an athlete, Banks continues to fight to clear his name, ultimately partnering with the California Innocence Project.

Written by Doug Atchison, the movie premieres Saturday at LAFF and is one of the festival’s top distribution prospects.

Press: ‘Hidden Figures’ Star Aldis Hodge, Painter Harmonia Rosales to Debut Collab Works at L.A. Art Show

Monday, Jan 15, 2018

The actor and Chicago-based artist will have a series of paintings — collectively titled “Through the Looking Glass” — on display from Jan. 10 to 14.

 

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER –  When Aldis Hodge DM’d artist Harmonia Rosales on Instagram to compliment her paintings, he never expected to kick off a collaboration. But the Hidden Figures actor, 31 — who next stars opposite Kevin Bacon in Showtime police pilot City on a Hill — showed Rosales some of his paintings, and she told him they held a beautiful sadness. “I was surprised someone responded to my work in that way who was not named ‘Mom,'” he says. Now the duo are bowing two new works via the Simard Bilodeau gallery at the L.A. Art Show, Jan.?10 to 14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

 

Chicago-based Rosales, 33, had a viral moment in May after, at Hodge’s urging, she Instagrammed her painting The Creation of God — a take on Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam with black women as both figures. There was a backlash, including racist attacks directed at her. “There’s a lot of hypocrisy in religion, but when you’re talking about God as a representation of love and as a representation of all of us, we should all be able to see God as ourselves,” says Hodge. “So there’s nothing wrong with the image at all.” The incident made fans of stars like Willow Smith and drew the attention of Eve-Marie Bilodeau, who with husband Guy Simard runs Simard Bilodeau. Samuel L. Jackson purchased “Black Imaginary to Counter Hegemony (B.I.T.C.H.),” a piece by Rosales, from the gallery’s September show of paintings.

 

“I’m so glad we have this collaboration, because I don’t like talking about my work,” says Rosales of working with Hodge. “I just like painting, I just like color, but [talking] is his strong suit, so it’s great.” In their series, “Through the Looking Glass,” Rosales paints figures — like a woman named Adeelah, in hijab and carrying a baby swaddled in an American flag. “I want them to be familiar, regardless of who you are,” she says of her subjects. Hodge paints the backdrop with words like “equal” and “survivor,” then distresses them, sometimes with a technique using fire. “It’s a subtle reminder that no matter what her culture is, what her religion is, she can still be American,” says Hodge of Adeelah. “She’s American-American just like I’m American-American. I know my culture, and my culture’s equally American as anything else.”

Press: John Legend Renews Push To Save ‘Underground’ TV Series

Saturday, Oct 14, 2017

FORBES – John Legend is publicly renewing his efforts to save Underground, the ground-breaking, recently-cancelled series that humanizes and tells the stories behind the Underground Railroad. A popular social media and ratings darling, Underground aired on WGN America until Sinclair Broadcast Group made a bid for Tribune Media three months ago. Meanwhile, as the potential merger of the two companies was reviewed by the FCC, the two-year-old drama was deep sized. The series told the not-told-enough stories of the people who tried mightily to help the enslaved escape to freedom in the north United States and in Canada. Legend is an executive producer.

 

Since the cancellation, fans have tried to persuade OWN, Netflix and other networks (or streaming services) to host the series, which clocks in at around $4.5-million an episode and was selected as an inaugural public program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. No network has bitten yet (that we know of) and Legend took to Twitter to distribute an open letter discussing his thoughts on the matter. He castigates Sinclair Media’s choices in programming, saying the “far right” network turned away from high quality scripted shows to “cheaper unscripted entertainment.”

Continue reading Press: John Legend Renews Push To Save ‘Underground’ TV Series