Ahead of the April 2 premiere of Netflix‘s father-son drama Concrete Cowboy that also highlights North Philadelphia’s Black Urban Cowboy subculture, we got a chance to speak with the film’s cast.
Following our sitdown with Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin, Cassius Life also got a chance to speak with their co-stars in the film Cliff “Method Man” Smith (Power Book II: Ghost), Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us), and Lorraine Toussaint (The Equalizer) to talk about their roles, and their experience getting acclimated with the horse riding.
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In the film, Smith plays Officer Leroy. His character serves as the bridge between the neighborhood where the Fletcher Street Stables are and the police. Officer Leroy is also a horse rider. We asked him about his approach to the role and whether he believed that policing is necessary today.
“Oh, absolutely. I wanted to approach it like I would want to see this kind of cop in my community and what that would like,” he began. “We hear it every day, especially if 2020 is a reflection of how we feel. It lets you know that there wouldn’t be a… I doubt that there would be a George Floyd case if that was a community police officer knowing George Floyd’s family and his condition. These kinds of details and information are very important, especially when you have the authority to either take a life or arrest. However, it works. When you have someone that’s actually from the community, there’s a bit more empathy towards those people in the community to protect and serve them.”
At the start of the interview, we asked the cast about working with the film’s animal stars, the horses. “I had like a 2-hour crash course in riding,” the rapper/actor revealed. “We had the actual Fletcher Street people there, so if you did something wrong or didn’t look right, they would pretty much step in and let you know where you went wrong.”
Toussaint, who plays Nessi — who is like the neighborhood mom — in the film, explained how they rode special horses, and she even fell in love with them. “These were special horses. These were actor horses,” she revealed. “When the horse people said these people are trained to make sure you don’t fall off. We were working with the real Fletcher Street Stable people and their horses, and they were working with their horses. Those were different kinds of horses. Those were real horses. There is a great deal of respect to be given to that community, and I learned a lot about horses, fell in love with them, and loved riding. I’d love to ride more.”
Finally, we asked Jharrel Jerome about his character Smush. In the film, Smush is the cousin of Cole. He is a bit of a troublemaker and got kicked out of the neighborhood by Harp. We asked Jerome if he had any personal connection to his character. “No,” Jerome began. ” I think the most personal connection I have to him is… just ambition and willing to do kind of whatever it takes to get there. I think for me growing up, I was kind of like that. I always wanted to step outside the box and be different from all the people who ran on my block and ran in my neighborhood. It got me here. Unfortunately, Smush’s story is a little different, and it involves some worst decisions, some decisions that didn’t pan out. But, fortunately, no, I don’t find a lot of similarities between me and Smush, which is the fun in playing him.”
You can see and hear the actors speak on their roles in the film in the interview above, and head to the GoFundme page set up to help the Fletcher Street Stables by going here.
Concrete Cowboy arrives on Netflix on April 2.
Photo: Aaron Rickets / Netflix