Exclusive Interview: Harold Perrineau Talks Seeking Justice, Reflects on Lost and Chats Upcoming Projects
In Anchor Bay's upcoming thriller Seeking Justice, actor Harold Perrineau co-stars alongside Nicolas Cage as Jimmy, an old friend of Cage's who finds himself torn when his buddy's wife is assaulted and a shadowy organization moves into help him take vengeance.
However, all is not what it seems with Perrineau's character Jimmy, which is a perfect metaphor for the actor's career - he's turned in brilliant performances in a vast array of cinematic subgenres as well as on a number of fantastic television series since the early 80's.
Recently Dread Central caught up with Perrineau for a brief chat to talk about his experiences filming Seeking Justice as well as his thoughts on working in a post-Katrina New Orleans, the conflicted characters he's portrayed throughout his career and more on what's next for him, including Kathryn Bigelow's upcoming Osama bin Laden feature film project.
Dread Central: I've always enjoyed how varied you've kept your career throughout the years. Can you discuss what drew you to Seeking Justice?
Harold Perrineau: Well, I was trying to find some stuff to do after "Lost", and this was one of a few projects that came my way. I thought the script was great because it kept viewers guessing and because it was a character-driven action movie with a good story to it. I also knew that I wanted to work with both Nic Cage and (director) Roger Donaldson, too, and shooting in a great city like New Orleans was gravy on top of everything.
I really feel like the story has this 70's thriller vibe to it, and that's something I don't get to be a part of too often so this felt like the right project at the perfect time.
DC: Well, let's talk a bit more about that - you and Nic - and the relationship between your characters because things gets pretty complicated between you two in the second and third acts of Seeking Justice.
Harold Perrineau: Will and Jimmy are definitely great friends, but things do end up getting tricky in this movie between them, and their friendship and trust are both pushed to the brink because Will has no idea just who is on his side by the third act.
And that's what I liked- I liked that Jimmy isn't the guy you think he is at first and there's a lot of complexity to the character even if it isn't necessarily the biggest role in the movie either. There's a lot of duality going on in Seeking Justice, and I'm definitely part of that.
DC: What I thought was really interesting about the film was that the city of New Orleans itself becomes a character of sorts, and when you're watching this, you can feel that sort of haunted-like energy of the city, especially the scene inside the abandoned mall.
Harold Perrineau: You know what got me the minute I stepped foot in New Orleans? The smell. The city just has all this beauty amongst this layer of decay, and that really made for a great atmosphere while making Seeking Justice. I mean, things down there are still pretty messed up, and it's surreal to see the amount of abandonment that went on there. It hangs over everything but so does the spirit of the people, too- it's vibrant and I think that's what makes New Orleans so interesting; it has such a dichotomy to it and that makes it a perfect setting for a story like this.
The city itself ends up being a really great character in the film without you being beaten over the head with it. It's there, and it's subtle. I like those little things that you have to keep looking at, adding things up to get the answer. I really like that about it.
DC: I feel like you really nailed a lot of 'conflicted' characters over the years- is that something you tend to look for when taking on a role; do you find that kind of material 'meatier' as a character actor?
Harold Perrineau: You know, I've been very lucky throughout my career to get so many great roles, and sure, I guess a lot of them have been conflicted or tortured souls of sorts. That is fun, for sure. Take Michael on "Lost"- I really liked Michael, but he was a victim of circumstance. His wife takes his kid, she dies and then he's stuck on this mysterious island after his plane crashes. Then his kid gets kidnapped and well, things just go even worse from there. It's hard to play a character like that- a guy you truly like but have to see him go down all these dark paths in his life, through no fault of his own. You start to feel bad and have to work on separating yourself a bit from your character when that happens.
DC: Can you discuss what's up next for you? I know it was just announced that you were added to the cast for Kathryn Bigelow's next film, which is pretty fantastic.
Harold Perrineau: Thanks! I know, right? After Hurt Locker, everyone's been anxious to see what she was going to do next so it's great to be a part of that. I really don't know much yet except that I'm heading overseas in a few weeks to start shooting. I also recently did a bit part in this movie called Snitch- that was just me going in to do a role for my buddy Ric Waugh (director), and it was pretty great working alongside Dwayne Johnson and Susan Sarandon just for a day. 2012 has been very good to me so far; I'm pretty lucky.
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