Home Movie Letitia Wright on ‘Surrounded’ and the Success of ‘Black Panther’

Letitia Wright on ‘Surrounded’ and the Success of ‘Black Panther’

Letitia Wright on ‘Surrounded’ and the Success of ‘Black Panther’


From director Anthony Mandler, the 1870s Western story Surrounded follows former Buffalo Soldier Mo Washington (Letitia Wright), a freedwoman who’s simply making an attempt to outlive her journey west to put declare to the gold mine that she’s greater than earned. When she finds herself within the path of infamous bandit Tommy Walsh (Jamie Bell), they discover themselves within the place of getting to depend on one another for survival, all whereas by no means forgetting the risk additionally they pose.

Throughout this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Wright talked about the kind of characters she’s drawn to, why she wished to play Mo Washington, the real-life inspiration she drew from for this character, persevering with to construct on her profession as a producer, how the success of Black Panther has led to extra alternatives, what she most loved about carry directed by Mandler, exploring the difficult dynamics with co-star Bell, being honored to share scenes with Michael Okay. Williams, and the filmmakers who’ve challenged her to attempt her personal hand at directing.


Collider: The alternatives in roles and tasks that you just make is so attention-grabbing. You play characters that appear very particular to their time and to their story, and that you actually need to throw your self utterly into. Are you drawn to character first? Does it have to simply leap off the web page for you? Does one thing in regards to the character have to talk to you?

LETITIA WRIGHT: That’s a very good query. Sure, I’d say so. I don’t wanna waste time doing one thing I don’t actually care about, so I at all times attempt to discover intriguing characters and in addition attempt to redefine what it means to be an artist, for myself, in addition to simply pondering outdoors the field and making an attempt to do one thing completely different and that will problem me. This suits proper into the kind of roles that I like to do. I like to stretch myself with stuff like this.

Letitia Wright as Moses “Mo” Washington in Surrounded
Picture by way of MGM

What was it about this character that basically made you wish to dig into this story and who she was? Had been there issues that you just had been most intrigued about attending to discover by taking part in somebody like this?

WRIGHT: Yeah. I discovered that there have been Buffalo Troopers again then, who predominantly had Black males alongside them preventing, and that there was a lady known as Cathay Williams. For the explanations that appear so unhappy right this moment, a lady has to cover herself, in an effort to defend herself, and he or she needed to take these mandatory steps. She was truly part of the Buffalo Soldier troop within the Military, and he or she hid as a person for a few years, till they figured it out. She was courageous sufficient to guard herself and to chase after this dream of getting higher for herself, after the Civil Conflict was over. That [inspired me with this character] and was one thing that I’d by no means seen earlier than. I wished to be part of portraying a personality like that.

A personality like that is at all times attention-grabbing to middle a narrative round since you by no means fairly know what to make of her, or how she’ll react or reply in a scenario. It actually makes it tougher to guess what the end result is perhaps. How did you view her? Did you see her as a hero? Do you see her because the hero of her personal story? Do you see her as a survivor?

WRIGHT: These are good phrases to make use of, and I agree with you. I join with these phrases as a result of I noticed her as somebody who, merely put, had a dream that she wished to attain, similar to most of us. Everyone has one thing they wanna do and to meet that. However what are you keen to do to get that? What obstacles are you keen to beat to get it? Some individuals overcome these obstacles, however sadly, some individuals don’t. I simply noticed her as somebody that redefined what she felt success was for her, compared to what society was saying success could be for her.

Once I spoke to you for The Silent Twins, which you had additionally produced, you instructed me that you just wished to hunt out extra alternatives as a producer, however that you just additionally wished to earn that title. What did that imply for you, on this movie? What had been the facets of the filmmaking course of that you just wished to get extra concerned with, when it got here to Surrounded?

WRIGHT: The chance to supply Surrounded was the primary alternative I had been given to co-produce, alongside my performing. It was truly earlier than The Silent Twins. It was simply a chance to have a artistic voice behind the digital camera, as a lot as I do in entrance of the digital camera. It actually helped me to determine my style, what I like and what I don’t like, and the methods I wish to enhance sooner or later. That led to my expertise for The Silent Twins as a result of I had already gained a bit little bit of expertise on this one. I used to be capable of work much more with the crew and to train my voice and to advocate for what was proper for the movie, as a producer. I really feel like step-by-step and challenge by challenge, I’m incomes that title a bit bit extra, however there’s a whole lot of work to do nonetheless.

Letitia Wright as Moses “Mo” Washington in Surrounded
Picture by way of MGM

It’s no secret that having Marvel-level success and being part of one thing like Black Panther opens doorways and permits you to inform tales that you just may not have been capable of inform with out having that highlight. What does it imply to you to be able the place you may carry tales to life that we would not in any other case get to see?

WRIGHT: It’s a constructive. Previous to Black Panther, I used to be at all times taking part in characters that had been a bit little bit of the outlier or the individuals in society who’re preventing for one thing higher than themselves. That’s been following me, so it’s simply an extension and a continuation of that. This time, it’s simply extra eyes on it, actually, compared to pre-Black Panther. It’s undoubtedly led to extra alternatives to make use of the platform for tasks that I actually love and I wanna champion. I’ll maintain doing that as a result of it’s a system that works very well for me.

Your director on this movie, Anthony Mandler, is somebody who gained expertise as a director by doing a whole lot of music movies. I discover music movies so attention-grabbing as a medium as a result of they actually have to inform a full story and convey a really clear imaginative and prescient, in about 5 minutes or much less, so it looks as if a director with that have would then know tips on how to very successfully convey the imaginative and prescient they’d need. How did you discover the expertise of working and collaborating with him on this? What did you want about working with him, as a director?

WRIGHT: I undoubtedly love the best way that he comes from that background of simply fast-paced creativity. I actually beloved Monster, which he did with Kelvin Harrison Jr. I believed that was an attractive movie with an attractive character on the middle. I simply beloved that he trusted me to make the character my very own and fly together with her, not likely messing with the method of what I needed to do to carry Mo to life. And he additionally listened to me, when it comes to script adjustments and what I felt she would say and what was mandatory for her to do. I used to be simply given the area to actually get this character shifting and going, and to show myself, at every level, particularly with studying tips on how to shoot the gun and altering my look and persona to suit what we wished her to be. He allowed me to seek out these issues by myself and produce them to life, so I used to be actually completely happy about that.

The dynamic between Mo and Tommy is fascinating as a result of there are such a lot of ranges at play between them and you actually discover all these ranges. What was it wish to discover that relationship? What did you most get pleasure from, as an actor, about what you bought to dig into with that dynamic, and what Jamie Bell gave again in these scenes?

WRIGHT: It was very nice to work with somebody who’s as devoted as you might be. I like that you’ve got two characters who’re the entire polar reverse of one another. You wouldn’t put them within the room collectively, and for those who did, they wouldn’t keep in the identical room as a result of they couldn’t deal with it. However the scenario on this movie forces them to have a look at one another and see similarities and variations. That’s what’s actually enjoyable in regards to the dynamic of the characters. It’s straightforward to say, “This one is nice, and this one is dangerous.” However who is nice and who’s dangerous? What does that imply? Your combat might be completely different from mine, however there’s the same motive of making an attempt to outlive. I like the dynamic of these two characters, and Jamie was the right co-lead to assist us get by that collectively. It was actually good.

Letitia Wright as Moses “Mo” Washington and Jamie Bell as Tommy Walsh in Surrounded
Picture by way of MGM

He looks as if an actor who’s not afraid to go to darkish and scary, if there’s a motive to go to darkish and scary. After which, there’s one thing so attention-grabbing about watching your characters as a result of they do really feel like they’re every the hero in their very own story, however the villain to one another.

WRIGHT: Yeah, that’s a extremely good level.

What was it wish to share display screen time with Michael Okay. Williams? What most stands out to you about having labored with him?

WRIGHT: I’m simply actually honored that I received the chance to work with him and to see him work. I’ve at all times been a fan of his craft, particularly in The Wire, but additionally The Night time Of. That one simply hit me. It was simply actually stunning to share moments with him on set. There was a whole lot of laughter, in between takes, and a whole lot of recommendation and encouragement and high quality performing. It was simply three individuals, going backwards and forwards, and simply performing our packs off, actually, to provide the very best to the challenge. Seeing somebody that had so a few years of expertise, nonetheless come on set and provides 100%, I’m honored to have labored with him and to share the display screen with him.

You’re exploring performing and also you’re exploring producing. Are you desirous about including directing to that, at any level?

WRIGHT: I received challenged by two actually cool individuals. I received challenged by Ryan Coogler, after which Denzel [Washington]. They had been like, “You’re desirous about directing, huh? You’re gonna do it.” I believe it’s one thing that may occur sooner or later, however who is aware of? It is perhaps nearer than I believe will probably be. I undoubtedly wanna be taught and research the craft of that. I believe it’s an attractive craft, and it’s nice management to have the ability to do this. For now, producing has my focus, and a few writing, as nicely – idea writing and developing with concepts. I’m staying in that pocket and nonetheless making an attempt to proceed to grasp my craft, as an actress, to be versatile and completely different, and to hit you with one thing completely different each time. That’s the pocket I’m staying in. However after I’m directing, you’ll find out about it.

Surrounded is accessible on digital.



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