With Antwone Fisher
Monday, Jan. 13, 2003; 3:30 p.m. ET
The new Denzel Washington-directed film "Antwone Fisher," based on the memoirs of the real Antwone Fisher, traces the story of a sailor with an explosive attitude who is ordered to see a naval psychiatrist about his volatile temper. Little did he know that his first step into the doctors office would lead him on a journey home. With the support of the doctor, Fisher finds the courage to stop fighting and start healing.
Fisher was online Monday, Jan. 13 at 3:30 p.m. ET, to discuss the film, his story and his new book of poetry, "Who Will Cry for the Little Boy."
Fisher will be signing copies of his books Monday, Jan. 13th 7:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Teaism Penn Quarter, 400 8th St. NW, Washington, D.C. For more information call Vertigo Books at (301) 779.9300.
The transcript follows.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
Los Angeles, Calif.: How did your story make it to Denzel Washington and then the big screen?
Antwone Fisher: Wow. How did it make it to him. The producer gave the screenplay to Denzel's agent. The agent gave it to Denzel and Denzel did the movie after the obligations he had.
Arlington, Va.: What was the main thing that turned your life around? Was it the therapy, the girlfriend, both?
Antwone Fisher: Ya know, I don't know. Probably my experiences in the Navy, you know, and the therapy. But mainly, the different interactions with people and discipline in the Navy.
Washington, D.C.: Well I just want to say that I haven't cried so much in I don't know how long; what a great story, and to think that you actually exist. My question I guess would be what was it that kept you going before you got into the military? Maybe your book answers that but I haven't read it (yet). Best wishes and blessings from D.C.
Antwone Fisher: I wanted to live like everyone else, to be normal.
Alexandria, Va.: I haven't read your book yet, but I bought it after having seen the movie and will read it soon. I'm sorry I won't be able to make it this evening to get you to autograph it!
I thought the movie was the most moving work of art I've seen in a long time. You must be very pleased with how it turned out.
To what extent were you involved in the movie, and what are your thoughts about any changes the movie had to make (I assume some living characters had to be changed for legal reasons).
Antwone Fisher: I wrote the movie, so I was pretty involved. I was there on the set every day and watched the dailies every day. I sat in the editing room.
It's a movie, you can't make movies like writing books or telling it with your mouth. They have a structure and format that you have to follow, so you have to make it work as a movie. And I did that.
Washington, D.C.: what was your true motivation in finding your family? Was it the urging of your psychiatrist or something else? What was the best part of the film version of your life story? What if anything would you change about the film depiction of your life?
Antwone Fisher: Curiosity was the motivation. The dream was the best part. Nothing.
Harrisburg, Pa.: You were a security guard at a motion picture studio and your story gained the attention of important studio executives? How do you get their attention? What were their reactions to your story?
Antwone Fisher: I wasn't looking for attention. I simply had just started working there and I found my family and I hadn't been there long enough to acquire leave, so I had to tell my boss why I wanted to go. And my boss told people on the lot about my story.
Washington, D.C.: In the movie your mother only spoke when she offered you food. Did she ever explain what happen and why she never looked for you? From the movie I felt that you forgave her but did she forgive herself.
Antwone Fisher: Oh I don't know if she forgave herself.
Washington, D.C.: Thank you for sharing your experiences. I have a question: do you trust anyone? I have NO trust and wonder how that resurfaces -- it's hard to live when you don't trust anything or anyone.
Antwone Fisher: I had to get professional help, so help yourself. And I have people I trust.
Arlington, Va.: I loved your book. I read it in two days. I also enjoyed the movie. My question is why did the movie have you seeing your child molester and foster mother again? I thought that the true version was more powerful. Why was that part fictionalized? Thanks.
Antwone Fisher: In the opinion of -- I felt like because the movie is a visual so you have to have action. It's better for the movie to have action, people moving around.
Frederick, Md.: What inspired you to come forward with your story now? Also, how big of a role did you play in choosing the actors and the director of the film?
Antwone Fisher: I don't think I came forward. Based on the question I answered earlier, people heard about my story and offered opportunity. No, Denzel Washington -- that was his job.
Washington, D.C.: My 12-year-old son and I went to see your film recently and I just can't express how much we enjoyed your story. You are truly inspirational. We'll never forget it. In spite of your situation, you made it. You give us hope.
Antwone Fisher: Thanks so much.
Silver Spring, Md.: In your dealings with Dr. Davenport, did you ever suspect that he was also having family issues in his marriage and that helping you would bring about an awakening in his own personal struggles?
Antwone Fisher: No. It was fictionalized -- the problem between Davenport and his wife. I didn't know his family. I was an enlisted officer.
Lyme, Conn.: Derek Luke has never starred in a movie before. Denzel Washington has never directed a movie before. Does this bring fresh perspectives to the movie, or did you find some "rookie mistakes" in how they handled matters?
Antwone Fisher: It's not like I'm an expert. I would depend more on Denzel than myself or Derek Luke. Denzel was the genius behind all of the film. When you see anything you like, give Denzel Washington the credit.
Washington, D.C.: Have you had any further contact with your mother since your initial meeting with her? Also, do you feel that there is any redemption for people like the foster family you that raised you (in particular your step-mother)? Beautiful movie, you've inspired a great many people. Peace.
Antwone Fisher: Yes, I have met my mother several times after, but we don't have a relationship. Is there any redemption, I suppose.
Antwone Fisher: I wrote the movie and I wrote the book, I wrote the poem "Who WIll Cry for the Little Boy" in 1981. Then when the movie came out, people were asking how they could get a copy of the poem and it seemed easier to publish it. I've been writing poetry for a long time, so I gathered a collection of them and asked my publisher if they would publish it and they did.
Washington, D.C.: Mr. Fisher,
I'm an aspiring screenwriter and I'd like to know how your story was picked up by Fox Searchlight and what advice would you give to someone like myself?
Antwone Fisher: The only way I know to get noticed, I never had to do it that way, so I don't know how to do that.
Sterling, Va.: Hello Antwone,
Your story changed my life. Honestly, it is awesome! Will you be doing any book signings in Virginia?
Antwone Fisher: Not that I know of.
Arlington, VA: This movie was speculator! How has your life changed since the release of this movie? What new professional opportunities have opened up for you?
Antwone Fisher: I haven't changed much at all. It just came out and no one knows what I look like! It's pretty much the same way it was.
Alexandria, VA: I just wanted to say that I admire you for being a such a positive person when everyone else was so negative!
Antwone Fisher: thanks
Washington, DC: I have read the book which I thoroughly enjoyed. Looking forward to seeing the movie. Do you have any thoughts on how the foster care system can better transition kids out of foster care into adult life?
Antwone Fisher: Oh, I don't know. I'd have to give it some thought.
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