‘Blindspotting’ stars Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal discuss new movie at The Washington Post.

Lowery:           Well.  Hello, everybody.  Thank you for that great round of applause.  I’m excited to be here too, and I’m really glad that we were all able to enjoy this film together this evening.  It was really, really remarkable.  I’m Wesley Lowery, a national correspondent here at The Washington Post, where I cover issues of race and policing, and so nothing that has anything to do with the movie that we just watched.  [LAUGHTER] And I’m extremely glad to be here in conversation tonight with the two stars of the film that we just watched—Daveed Diggs and—[LAUGHS] who you might know from his role playing Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton, so again—


Lowery:           —[LAUGHS]

Casal:              Thank you.  [LAUGHTER]

Lowery:           Not dissimilar from the role we just saw him in.  And Rafael Casal, who first conceived of the idea of Blindspotting, has performed on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.

Before we get started, I want to remind everybody in the room to, first of all, silence your cell phones, but second of all, keep them out, keep them in your hand.  Those of you following along online via the livestream, we would love if you guys could tweet and join the conversation.  We’re using the hashtag #Blindspotting, obviously, the name of the film.  And so please, if you guys are in the audience, send the tweets, do all that kind of stuff.  Those watching at home, do that as well so that we can include some of your questions here in this conversation because we want this to be interactive and you all be able to ask questions.  I’ve got plenty of questions, but I would love for you all to be able to ask some questions as well.

First of all, we were joking a little bit in the back because I’m a Cleveland native, and clearly here, we’ve got a little—believe it or not, they’re from Oakland.  [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] And so I feel—

Diggs:              We had a parade today.  [LAUGHTER] It was in honor of our parade.  I know you guys had a parade and it was very inconvenient, [LAUGHTER] but our parade was magic, even though I wasn’t there.  [LAUGHS]

Casal:              It’s because we’re champions, is why we had the parade.  [LAUGHTER]


Diggs:              You guys know about it now, finally.

Casal:              The Warriors are—I don’t know if you know this, but someone called them a dynasty team.  [LAUGHTER]

Diggs:              We didn’t say that.  But people have said it.

Casal:              It’s not our—it’s been said.

Diggs:              We’ve heard it said.

Lowery:           Once or twice.

Diggs:              Yeah. We might be a dynasty.

Lowery:           So how does it feel to root for a team that cheats?  Like how does that—?


Diggs:              I don’t know.  Talk to your boy LeBron.


Lowery:           So now that we’ve gotten off to a really good start—

Diggs:              This is going well.


Lowery:           One of the things I did really appreciate about this film is that it is very Oakland.  You see a lot of the city, and it grapples a lot with the idea of what’s happening in so many of the places that we’re from—the way they’re changing, different types of people coming in.  In some ways, while this was a film that was about a lot of different things, a lot of different themes, it in some ways was a love letter to Oakland.  Can you guys talk a little bit about why the city’s so important to you and about the kind of little pieces and parts in there?  I think sometimes about writing a film about Cleveland and I think about which artist from home I might try to include or which songs.  What are some of the Oakland Easter eggs in there?

Diggs:              I mean, literally everything.  [LAUGHTER] Every piece of this fil—basically, our sort of rubric for if a scene worked or if any piece of dialogue worked or if a shot worked was, would this really happen in Oakland?  And if the answer was yes, then it could stay in the movie.  And if the answer was no, then we’d cut it.  And we used that metric pretty much throughout in every phase of the process.

But yeah, you’re right to call it a love letter, and I think you’re right—you see this with a lot of artists from Oakland, I imagine a lot of artists from cities in flux—A, we’d never seen it portrayed onscreen in a way that we thought was accurately representative of the place we know and love, and then B, it feels like that place is going to be gone any second so if somebody doesn’t make that, then it’s gone—then there’s no record.  There’s nothing to point at and be like, “It was like that.”  So, that was a big part of why we made this film at all.

Lowery:           Of course.  Anything you want to add on that or are we good?

Casal:              Same.  [LAUGHTER] Strong.  [LAUGHTER]

Lowery:           No, of course.  I mean you’re right, though, that so many of these neighborhoods are changing so quickly and it seems like so much is vanishing.  And it is remarkable how quickly a neighborhood can change.  I was actually out in Oakland not too long ago doing some reporting, as I’m talking to someone in a neighborhood, this white couple rollerblades past us, and the guy goes, “See, that’s what I’m talking about.”  [LAUGHTER] And it was just one of those moments where I was like, yeah, I guess you’ve got a point.  [LAUGHS]

Diggs:              This is, what, I don’t know, eight years, seven years, six years, or sometime—a while ago in West Oakland, not far from where we shot a lot of this film, a good friend of ours whose family has lived there forever, and they always have this New Year’s Kwanzaa celebration.  And one year, my grandfather happened to have come back to Oakland.  He’d been gone—he’d been sort of hiding out in Kansas City for many years on house arrest.  [LAUGHTER] And he made his way back to Oakland, so him and my father both came to this party.

And so there’s all these generations of us at this party, and we’re all sitting outside, and my grandfather’s smoking a blunt that someone had given him, and it’s like 3:30 in the morning, and this Asian kid rides by on a fixed-gear bike, and my grandfather just sort of takes a drag, shakes his head, and he’s like, “You know, some things have really changed around here.”  [LAUGHTER] But he used to live and sell drugs on that block, you know?  And so did my father.  So those touchstones, when they pop up, especially if you’ve gone and come back, and I think for a lot of us who leave for work and then only come back periodically, the change feels even more drastic.

So I can only imagine how it felt for him having been gone for, you know—I don’t think he’d been back in Oakland for 10 years, and the first thing he sees is an Asian kid at 3:00 a.m. riding through a neighborhood where literally no—even riding a bike at night there never would have happened before when he was there last [LAUGHS]—you know, just the act of that, regardless of who it was.

Lowery:           That’s remarkable.  One of the things I liked about this film was how it both had the comedic element but was really tackling, in I thought really nuanced ways, serious topics and themes that we’re dealing with in the country.  One of the first things that happens in the film is a police shooting, and we watch Collin as he witnesses a police shooting and has to debate how he involves himself or to what extent he should be involved.

How did you guys, in the writing of it, think about—you know, police shootings have been in the news almost constantly for the last few years.  We’ve seen video after video.  I’ve spent a lot of time covering these types of topics.  And we’ve seen pop culture portrayals, some that have hit the mark and some that have missed the mark.  How did you guys, in the conversations about how you were going to tell this story, think about, you know, something like that could go left really quickly?

Casal:              I mean, one of the ways we describe the film is that it’s a comedy in a world that won’t let it be one.  And all that really does for us—was a mantra to remind us that we were trying to make a buddy comedy that didn’t ignore the context of the world that it is taking place in.  That is the sort of definitive difference between it and other just buddy comedies, is that it doesn’t pretend that police shootings aren’t happening.  It doesn’t pretend that there are consequences and fallouts on everyone in the community, especially our protagonist in this particular case.

And so we were excited to—some of the later scenes—the final scene there with Daveed and the argument that he and I have are some of the oldest scenes in the script.  So a lot of our work was reverse engineering from them and going, well, how would two characters in a buddy comedy ever get to the point where they would have this conversation with each other?  And I think that was really interesting to us.

But this pairing of drama and humor is something that comes up a lot for us.  And I think the idea of thinking—like, we don’t do that in our lives ever.  We don’t really like silo our feelings by, like—like, I’m not having, like, a comedy day today, and tomorrow I’m thinking thriller.  [LAUGHTER] You know, like, that’s not how my life works.  And so we just approach it the way that life is, like comedy and drama are existing simultaneously and sometimes one is a coping mechanism for the other, so we just paired them the way that they are paired in life and didn’t really give it a second thought.  You know, we would go to funerals growing up for people who passed before their time and you’re just telling jokes.  That’s how you deal with that moment.  We talk about comedy is tragedy plus time, but we don’t have that kind of time anymore, so now they just happen simultaneously, and we wanted the film to reflect that.

Lowery:           One of the things, kind of playing on that string a little bit more—the portrayal of how the police shooting was covered in the media was something that kind of came back to in several scenes—you know, standing in the convenience store and watching the initial news coverage.  Later on, sitting in the home on the couch with the pamphlet about having the talk in a mixed race family and trying to sort out how that would happen.  Can either of you talk a little bit about that conversation that’s being had in the country and about how the media frames these conversations about police force and police violence?

Diggs:              Yeah, I mean I think—that is the thing that has changed most in the script, we always say, from when we—we started writing this script almost 10 years ago—to when we got it produced, is when we started writing, it was right after Oscar Grant was murdered at Fruitvale BART Station.  I was living a couple blocks away from there.  And it was a thing, if you’re telling a story about Oakland at the time, that was a thing.  That was the thing.  And the way that that was represented in the town was with posters of Oscar’s face everywhere, and his name was in everybody’s mouth, and there were protests and riots.

And that was not an early example of an excessive use of force between the police and an unarmed black person, but it was sort of early in the way that we are covering it now.  It was early in the reporting of it, so there was a response to it that was a little bit taken aback and got some national attention.  The way the conversation nationally feels like it has changed is that we can’t keep the names straight anymore, you know?  Or the circumstances.  So you know, was Michael choked or was he shot, and was that in Baltimore or was that Ferguson—like, who—you know, we’re inundated with this reporting that keeps happening.  I think the fantasy back then was, well, by reporting it, it will stop happening.  Once we shine the light on it, we will do something about it.  And that didn’t happen.

Instead what has happened is we get a sort of numbness to it to the point where for us to make a film where Collin was in any palpable way affected by it, he had to see it.  He had to be there to witness it.  And nobody else in the community is really affected by it.  And Miles comments on it and thinks about it long enough to get frustrated with how the news is reporting it and be like, “Well, this isn’t going to be the one.  He’s a convicted felon.”  You know, “Wrong cocktail, my G.  No protest for you.”  But that’s it.  In early versions of this script, there were protests and there were rallies and there were riots, all things that would have been very expensive to shoot on our budget [LAUGHTER]—that required like a lot of people and fire and—

Lowery:           And that had nothing to do with the changes in the script.

Casal:              Silver lining.  [LAUGHTER]

Diggs:              Yeah, yeah, yeah.  We didn’t know any better.  We’d never written a movie before, so no one told us, like, don’t put a f***ing riot in a low budget movie.  [LAUGHTER] As it turns out that would have been hard to shoot, because we wanted to shoot a scene with like 10 capoeiristas that they wouldn’t let us do, so, you know.  [LAUGHS] It’s expensive.  Making a movie is hard, guys.  [LAUGHTER]

Lowery:           Well, you mentioned the idea that Collin is a [LAUGHTER]—lessons learned, right?

Diggs:              You’ve got to pay them as stunt performers and as actors.  [LAUGHTER]

Casal:              These are the details, people.

Lowery:           So the advanced level stuff.

Diggs:              Yeah, yeah, yeah.  You don’t need to know about that.

Casal:              Top shelf.

Diggs:              [LAUGHS]

Lowery:           You mention the idea that Collin himself is a felon—or, you know, is coming back, is returning and reentering society, and there was that kind of parallel structure.  It’s a police shooting of someone who is portrayed this way.  This was a felon who was running with an illegal gun.  And at the same time, we’re kind of watching the redemptive arc of a primary character who is just trying to get there.  He’s almost all the way back and is, you know, with no help of his friends, trying to make it to those last few days.

What type of commentary—what is that, and what were you guys trying to go for in terms of humanizing?  We have so many people who are, you know, after an era of mass incarceration reentering our society, and one thing I thought you guys captured really well was the complexity, and in some ways the real difficulty that we don’t have a society necessarily set up to make it easy to reenter society.

Casal:              Yeah, I mean, Collin and Miles are composites of real people that we grew up around.  And I think this was a—we performed this poem at CinemaCon while doing the rounds to promote this film not too long ago, and one of the lines in that pieces is, “How perfect does a black boy have to be before we mourn him?”  I think it was really important to show a character that we weren’t trying to present as perfect, because I think among our ambitious writing goals was this thing that I think—I don’t even know if we fully had experienced until we started showing the movie to people, but we’d have these moments where you’re getting to sort of these peak moments in the film, and there’s so many things at play, and the whole audience is still just rooting for Collin to be okay.  And I think if we can get a room full of people to collectively be on the side of the convicted felon with the gun and see that he’s a good person trying to reclaim his space in the world that we can do that as a country.  And so if we have these moments as a community where we can make that happen, we’re just building a muscle of empathy when we hear about it again in the news cycle.

Diggs:              If you have been connected to—


Diggs:              If you have anybody close to you, friends or family, who are returning citizens—was the term I learned today with the ACLU—and are on probation—if you’re close to anybody like that, or if you’ve gone through it yourself, like, it’s a trap.  It’s an actual trap.  It’s not the same as your learner’s permit or something.  It’s actually a system actively trying to send you back to jail at all times.  You know?  And there are alternate endings of this film that we chose not to [LAUGHS]—

Casal:              Yeah.  One of the people that Collin is based on is a close friend of mine who did six years in federal prison and forgot to clean the bathroom on his last day in the halfway house and they sent him back for seven months.  We thought about doing that to Collin and then we just thought you couldn’t take it.  [LAUGHTER]

Diggs:              I think I thought I couldn’t take it.  [LAUGHS] I was like, I have to play it, bro [LAUGHTER].

Casal:              But you know, if you hear about that on the news and it’s just this person who that happened to, there’s this narrative of, like, “Well, he should have cleaned the damn bathroom.”  But you don’t think about all the shit that person has to go through every day just to try to stay out of trouble when they’re being hunted like every—I’m sure you’re about to give one of the examples—like, they’re trying to get you every way possible.  And it’s this minisc—this thing you forget about when you’re right at the finish line.  And you’re punished again.

Diggs:              If I was threatened with jail every time I didn’t clean the bathroom [LAUGHS], I would never be out of jail.  [LAUGHTER] And it’s all so complicated, and the system’s broken, too, just in terms of the way any system should work.  It doesn’t function correctly.  I have a family member whose probation was transferred from one county to another in cities that are very close to each other.  And finally got a meeting with his new PO, which took a long time, and he was running down the list, just, you know, blah, blah, blah, drug test every month, yada, yada, yada.  And as a throwaway, on his way out the door, “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.  You don’t have a dog, do you?”  “Oh, yeah, I do.”  “Oh, well, it’s not like a pit bull or something, is it?”  “Yeah, it is.”  “Oh, okay.  Don’t walk it.”  “What do you mean I shouldn’t walk my dog?”

Well, in this county, a function of your probation is you’re not allowed to have that dog as a particular class of dog.  And that’s different from the county you were in.  There’s no way you would have known that.  Nobody told you that.  But if for some reason, a police officer stopped you while you were walking your dog on a leash, they would send you back to jail.

Lowery:           Oh my goodness.

Diggs:              So he had to figure out what to do about that, get his pit bull registered as a service animal and walk it with a little pink vest.  You know what I’m saying?  [LAUGHTER] But it’s a trap.  It’s a trap.  Nobody told him that.  Nobody told him that and it almost didn’t happen in this interview with the person who was supposed to tell him that.  It was, “Oh, yeah.  Oh, oh, yeah.  I’m sure this isn’t a problem but—” “Yeah, I have a dog.”  Didn’t think it was a problem.  [LAUGHS]

Lowery:           I want to remind you guys that I’m going to take some of your questions as well, and so you can tweet them using this hashtag, #Blindspotting.  We’re going to go to those in a second, but I’ve got one more kind of along this line.  And I think back to the scene after the fight, where Collin’s walking down the street, he’s got the gun in his pocket, and he sees the police pull the U-turn.

One of the things that’s been really interesting—like I said, I write about police violence and have for years, and one thing that’s really interesting from readers and from viewers is the split between folks who can understand what that feeling is like and folks who do not.  And for so long, it felt like post-Ferguson, post-Baltimore, so many readers and so many white Americans could not comprehend the—why didn’t you just cooperate?  Why would you run?  Why would you be so afraid of this?  If you didn’t do anything wrong, what bad thing could ever happen to you?  Right?  And you have this moment where the film starts with a former felon running away from an officer, shot in the back because he’s got an illegal gun.  And what we’re seeing is the scenario playing out again.  The very sweet white people I was sitting next to, one of them whispers, “Oh my god.  They’re going to shoot him,” as the police pull up.  And it was that moment, where you could feel kind of palpably people thinking—some people perhaps for the first time, “Oh.  This is what it’s like to be in that moment.”

How did you guys capture that, and what work went into—because like I said, for me, it really stood out.  I could imagine being in that scenario.  I’ve been in scenarios like that.  But I know for a lot of people in the audience, maybe it was one of the first times really feeling that, oh, this is what it feels like when the police pull up on you this way.

Casal:              There’s a couple things in play there.  One, at that point, you’re pretty in Collin’s corner, which is why it happens at that point in the film.  We also did a lot of work with—we have a great sound design team.  We described that moment as, “And then Jaws comes around the corner.”  Like that’s how it feels.  There’s a shark in the water, and you’re hoping it doesn’t notice you.  And so when he comes around that corner, you see Collin tense up like, “Oh, just swim by.”  You know?

M:                    And that light turns on.

Casal:              It’s one of our favorite shots—we talk about it all the time—when you see the police car turn in the glass—

Diggs:              In the window—it’s good.  Carlos, he got that.  [LAUGHTER]

Casal:              And you just know—the thing is, we’re all aware, which is so fascinating to me, is like, if you know what’s going to happen, then you do know the problem.  A cop car turns around and you go, “F***.”  You know?  Sorry, livestream.  [LAUGHTER]  But it’s a collective “F***.”  Sorry.  [LAUGHTER]

Lowery:           It’s all good.  They’re all 13-year-old Hamilton fans.  [LAUGHTER]

Casal:              Thanks for coming.  [LAUGHTER]

Lowery:           This film is very different than Hamilton [LAUGHTER] if you have not seen it yet.

Diggs:              But, you know, to feel it, it has to be you, right?  Rafael wrote that line, and it’s one of the gratifying things that happens in this film, and I don’t know how much—you know, most of our work was just trying to tell the story honestly.  But the way to make that moment feel honest was to make it feel like a horror film.  You know, that’s a jump scare, essentially.  I mean it’s palpable.  And that’s the way—

Casal:              Without exaggerating.  Without making it more of a horror film than it really is.  Like, that is an occurrence.  A cop turns around, follows you, throws a light on, decides what to do, and in this case, moves on.  But we didn’t want to dramatize it in any way other than Collin’s lived experience in that moment.

Diggs:              But it’s an interesting thing, because I don’t know any black person who doesn’t know that feeling, but I know a lot of white people who don’t know that feeling.  But when you’re sitting in the theater watching that moment, everybody feels that feeling, and I think—at least thus far that I’ve been sitting in theaters, and I think that—one of the things that we did try really hard to do was make sure that we got enough inside of Collin’s head and perspective to really root for him and to really relate to him and to really be able to put yourself in his shoes.  And we showed enough of Collin’s process to earn that kind of empathy so that you could feel it a little bit, you could have an inkling of what that feels like even if it’s fantasy.

Lowery:           Of course.  So Megan from Twitter, she says she’s a Northern California native—

M:                    Hey.

M:                    I like her already.  [LAUGHTER]

Lowery:           And so she wanted to go back to a little bit of what we were talking about earlier.  She said, “What was your favorite Oakland callout that you were able to include in the movie, and did anything not make it in that you wish did?”  And so we’ve already talked about the riot, but what else have we got?

Casal:              Which one you want?

Diggs:              So that burger joint that they’re at in the opening—

Casal:              Oh, yeah—[OVERLAPPING].

Diggs:              —Kwik Way—Kwik Way is a real—all of the stories in these films are essentially real stories, but Kwik Way was sort of like a famous, just, like, greasy burger spot in the town that closed down, and then, I don’t know, 10 years later reopened with the same name, same sign, everything.  People lined up for blocks and came up there and got their burgers, and it was like, whole wheat buns, and it was all of this [LAUGHTER]—it was a completely different thing, and everyone was so betrayed.  [LAUGHTER] And it shut down again pretty quickly.  [LAUGHTER]

Casal:              We don’t play that shit.

Diggs:              Well, we didn’t then.  We probably do now.

Casal:              Yeah, we probably do now.  [LAUGHTER]

Diggs:              But it was such a betrayal.  Some of my earliest memories are at Kwik Way.  My dad used to stand me up on the counter and I would order “three meats and three cheeses.”  I always wanted a triple cheeseburger.  [LAUGHTER] I was like a five-year-old.  “With nothing else on it, just meat and cheese.”  So to have a thing that is so steeped in cultural memory and to have somebody come in and reopen it without telling us that you were changing it and to keep the name the same, that’s like such a betrayal.  [LAUGHTER] We were livid.

Casal:              Which is why we wrote that scene with Miles so offended.

Diggs:              So offended.

Casal:              That’s one of my favorite lines in the script.  “You have to specify meat.”  [LAUGHTER] Just like the fury.

Diggs:              And Miles’s reaction to that is like, so—he’s just, “Okay, let’s go now.”  You know, like—[LAUGHS]

Casal:              It actually—we had to trim that shot way down.  It was long.  My reaction was, “What the f*** did you just say?” and just went on.  The scene that I—I don’t know that we regret anything not getting in, but there was a scene that as a standalone we love, which maybe we’ll throw on YouTube or something that’s another locker room scene where one of the other guys walks in with a 49ers jacket on, which, like is a sin—[OVERLAPPING].

Diggs:              But it’s also—it’s Yorkie, who, he’s moved from New York.

Casal:              He moved from New York, and he doesn’t really get the politics.  And just the ferociousness for which he’s told to take off the jacket, or, like, he’s going to get his ass kicked.  [LAUGHTER] And it’s just fun.  It’s just like the right kind of comedy.  And we had it in there for a long time.  We were like, this is great, but we need to move on.  [LAUGHTER]

Diggs:              We didn’t really have the time for it, but it—yeah.

Casal:              It’s the politics now in the Bay, because the Raiders are going to Vegas.  It’s a very sensitive subject for us.

Diggs:              And the Warriors are going to San Francisco—[OVERLAPPING].

Casal:              There’s a lot of—we don’t want to get into it, but it hurts.  [LAUGHTER]

Lowery:           Katie on Twitter, she said, “I like the nuance and the discussion in the scene about the police recruiting poster.”  And so she asked, “How do you guys think law enforcement will react to the film?  Did you think at all about the reactions?”  And that kind of segues into the question I was thinking about, was, you know, this is a piece of political artwork in some ways.  It doesn’t beat you over the head with the message, but there’s clearly some nuanced discussion there.  How do you guys think about how this will be received, especially in an environment where, you know, if the president doesn’t like it, he might tweet about how much he hates your movie.

Casal:              Ah, I f**in’ wish.



Casal:              I f***in’ wish.

Diggs:              He would have to sit through it, though.  Or someone would have to tell him that he wouldn’t like it.  [LAUGHTER] I’ll tell him.

Casal:              I’ll tell him.

Lowery:           Did you ever see the tweets where he’s like, “Blackish is the most racist show on TV.  We couldn’t have a show—”  [LAUGHTER] It’s like it’s literally one of those, like he just saw it in the scrolling TV guide, said, “Black-ish?  That sounds racist.”

Diggs:              I know, so they put Roseanne on for him.


Casal:              Oh.  [LAUGHTER]

Diggs:              Washington—[OVERLAPPING].

Casal:              Poor Trumpy.  [LAUGHTER] No, so the police poster, it was based on a real poster that I saw in a subway in Harlem.  So that’s just a straight lift from another police department.  So if any police have a problem with it, talk to your superior.  That is a real recruitment poster.

But I mean as far as being curious of the response, I mean I think we tried to do as good of a job as possible of making everyone feel three-dimensional.  Now, it’s not the story of the police officer.  That’s a different movie.  It’s also, like, they get to hold court after somebody dies.  The person who dies does not.  And so this is a compensating movie for time and attention on perspective.

But Ethan Embry plays Officer Molina brilliantly, and did the work to make sure that it wasn’t some person that we treated like a punching bag for any, you know, communal anger, but instead let him—when he’s on camera, he’s conflicted and—you know, I can’t imagine—no matter what the circumstances, what it means to murder someone.  You know?  Law or no law, somebody is gone because of you.  That has to weigh—I have to believe that weighs heavy on anyone.  So I don’t think we wanted to write someone who was, like, apathetic towards something like that, but rather give him process, and then give hints of whatever his week may have been like.  Maybe the problem with his wife was happening before.  Maybe it’s because of this.  I don’t know that we wanted to specify, but there is something, you know, turned over there.  And something about what goes on between him and Collin and Miles resonate—it stirs up something, it stirs up the beginning of some emotion.  I think it’s exciting for me to talk to people afterward, and I go, “Where do you think that was going?”  I don’t know that we know.  I think we just liked that—we made sure that it was going somewhere.

Diggs:              I think in that last scene, the power dynamics are shifted and confused enough that what you end up are three people in a room and one of them really needs to be understood or he’s going to die.  That’s what’s happening in that scene.  And I think—you know, I grew up running for the police athletic league.  Police officers went door to door to raise money for me to go to college.  I know wonderful police officers.  Police officers aren’t the problem.  The way we are policing is the problem.  And everybody is affected by that, officers included.  So again, it’s not his story, but what I know is Ethan, who talked to us almost every day in the process leading up to it, asking questions and diving into this character that had six words—I know he at least championed this human with enough to play a part as someone who is affected by what he did, where there are consequences—not that he’s let off the hook or anything like that, but that there are consequences that he feels too for what he did, and that’s a different movie.

Casal:              And most of the movie is about fear.  It’s not about hate.  It’s not about hostility towards the police.  It’s about a fear.  And I think that—getting everyone to understand the fear of police is of the utmost—at least utmost importance to me.  That constant paranoia of your own death.  It seems like it would be a cheap reaction to somebody who didn’t actually watch the movie, but just felt like the understood the movie from the trailer to have that.

We even had—there was a YouTube video where people—you know, people do reactions to trailers.  And a former police officer did one.  He didn’t announce himself as a former police officer when he watched it, but he brought it up in the response.  And he talked about—you saw him sit back and go, “Yeah, I’ve policed guys who just like had a—it was a bad day.  Like, we just got him at the wrong time.”  And you saw this empathy start to come out.  And I have to think that if we can find—if we can get around defensiveness, if we can get around assuming the conversation is as simple as it’s gonna be, and allowing it to have the nuance that it does, then really most people in the film, you can find the vantage point to empathize with them.

Lowery:           Of course.  This has been a remarkable conversation, and before we wrap, I’ve got one last question.  How bad was that green juice?  [LAUGHTER] What was that stuff?  Did you really have to drink it?

Diggs:              We drank a lot of it.  I drank a lot of it.  [LAUGHTER] It gets better.  You get used to it.  But that was all art department.  I don’t know what it was initially, but that juice—our art department was so good.  [LAUGHTER] Some of the things that they came up with are just like, how dare—that was so good.

Casal:              So disgusting.  [LAUGHTER]

Diggs:              Over time.  You develop a taste for it.

Lowery:           Excellent.

Diggs:              The initial shock is—[LAUGHTER]

Lowery:           So the green juice does get better.  And with that, let’s have another round of applause.  Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, this beautiful film.


Casal:              Thanks for coming.

Lowery:           Thank you guys so much.

Diggs:              Thanks for coming.

Lowery:           Thank you guys.