Back to IndieWire

Jeffrey Wright was “SPOILED” into thinking “You can be an Actor and Also Be Relevant.”

Jeffrey Wright was "SPOILED" into thinking "You can be an Actor and Also Be Relevant."

The Root recently interviewed, Jeffrey Wright about his role in The Ides of March as well as the upcoming 9/11 drama Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. During his conversation with Valerie Gladstone, Wright was asked about his affinity for political dramas. His response was pithy but poignant…


“Some musicians play blues, others classical jazz or bluegrass. I like to play political roles because I can merge my political interests with my creative interests. I was spoiled by being in Angels in America — with thinking you could be an actor and also be relevant. Also, I grew up in Washington, D.C., and studied political science in college”.

So, it’s interesting what he states about “thinking you could be an actor and also be relevant.” It kind of reminds me of my interview with Chi McBride and the infamous “pretentious actor’s bullshit” line. Maybe I’m over-analyzing Jeffrey’s comments but in some ways it seems as though he is saying the same thing, just with less bite in his language. Is acting just acting and not some elevated art that is life (world) changing? Or is it all relative to those who partake in it, whether it be from the working end or in a theater seat? Whats your thoughts?

Oh and if you missed it, you can read Jeffrey’s full interview HERE.

UPDATE: For those asking about the Chi McBride interview, check for it HERE. Remember, you gotta read S&A everyday or you may miss something that could change your life! lol

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged



Just updated the post with the Chi McBride link.


I think you can be relevant and an actor if you are George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Jerry Weintraub, Steven Spielberg, etc. or Tyler Perry. It’s money, fame, and power. The greenlight power, money, and fame it gives you to get your work out there for people to pay attention!!!!! It worked for Mel Gibson with Passion of the Christ pre-drunken rant – but as long as you have to beg other people for your opportunities in this business, it’s hard to be an actor and relevant because you’re NOT making the rules!!!! Believe that!!! Other than that you just have to be gifted with talent from God


Yeah, by all means, please repost the Chi McBride interview.


I agree with Dee! Since I fancy the political dramas myself, I have a lot of admiration for Wright’s work and what he means. He does a 4 min scene in Manchurian Candidate with Denzel. It was amazing to say the least in the short amount of time he was on camera. I do believe in the choosing of your roles defines why people will follow you just as much as how good you are talent wise in anything.


Where’s the Chi McBride interview?


I agree with him & I agree with Chi. A lot of actors are pretentious as hell because people adore us. The whole “audience/stage” dynamic, physically, puts another person above you, separate from you, “bigger” than you. All the energy of the crowd focused on a lesser number of people or even one person, is powerful-for both sides. Yep, a lot of actors make what they do waaay more important than what it is, you are not curing cancer and you’re not fighting in Iraq, you’re pretending. HOWEVER, Acting, & more importantly ART is extremely important, because it’s the way we view, express & examine ourselves. It’s one of the few ways a person can be a third party observer to their own shit-by seeing played out for them before their eyes. Life with a safety net. Jefferey said in an article a long time ago he became an actor because “he had shit on his chest”. Well, funny that the bigger you get in this game, nobody really gives a good god damn what you have to say, because you are there for their entertainment. We turn you on at 8, flip the channel if you’re whack & then turn the show off at 9. If we don’t like your show, we leave the theatre. But from the performer’s perspective, thinking you are using the tools are your disposal to “do” something, for someone else, it’s really important.

I’m also of the mind that an actor, especially in tv & film, is probably the one artistic endeavor that is solely about “interpretation”. Improv aside, acting is about interpreting, we take someone else’s vision & make it happen…like short order cook. LOL Mamet says our job is to take the writer’s words & “make it truthful”…but we don’t make the words. A director shapes the visual canvass of a film, he captures the moments an actor engages in…but the full realization of our actions happens in post…with music added, colors brightened, special fx to add the monster we’re battling, the expressionistic thoughts we’re having manifested in front of us. Yeah we “do” it, but it’s not OUR art.

So what is an actor’s “art”? I believe it’s in the roles they choose. That’s where you see what an actor, that PERSON, is all about & what they really like communicating. Fishburne likes tortured characters and loves emoting-especially pain & restrained anger. Guess it coincides with his ideas of racial inequality. Clooney & Damon like political films…Denzel likes films where the central character is constantly struggling against himself or society & despite their state has a regal dignity. Same with Morgan Freeman. Dustin Hoffman likes characters that allow him to rise above his physical size…Angela Bassett likes women who, if they were men, would be soldiers. Jack Nicholson likes guys who have their own code, their own way of looking at the world-often outside looking in. Depp likes weirdos, because they’re interesting, comfortable in their own skin and seemingly more “human” than the rest. And funny, McBride takes roles of the funny guy that everyone likes with a good heart. Yeah they choose roles based on money & timing & paying for the summer beach house, but you can draw a thru-line through just about every major stars career who has been around for 5 years or more & see who they “are”.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *