| If we’re talking about the glorious clichés of sports movies, you can’t forget the kid with so much heart it compensates for his lesser skills. Evan Ross fills those speedos in Pride, a story of the first African-American competitive swimming team in the ‘70s. Growing up with mom Diana, Ross had plenty of research material for the time period.
Evan Ross on Pride
“I called her,” said Ross. “A lot of people were like, ‘You’ve gotta ask.’ I was asking her about the slang and she said, ‘I don’t remember the slang then’. But she talked about it, some stuff about the hair styles. I sent her some things with Regine [Nehy], the girl in the film and what they had her hair like. There were some thoughts on that that she was involved with. And they had her picture in the make-up room and I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, there’s mom.’ They had a little clothing, what she was wearing. Interesting time, a good time. They had such great clothing. I was talking to Terrence [Howard]. Terrence was like, ‘Lets get some of this for when we’re off-set.’
Without the benefit of a time machine, the boys had to hit the books to take on the ‘70s. “I got to have a buzz cut but everybody else had to deal with the wigs and the long hair. It was out of control. We did a lot of research. The whole time before we started filming, it was non-stop work. It might have been more work than when we were filming actually. We would wake up in the morning and go do swim training in New Orleans at six o’clock in the morning, tired, all in one van. From there, we’d play basketball. We went straight from there to the production office where we watched ‘70’s movies, then from there we went to Tulane for research. No matter how tired we were, we were trying to get all this information. It was great.”
After all that, they still had time to enjoy the local scene. “There’s great food in New Orleans. We did hang out. We were in the hotel a lot but we did hang out. And [costar] Alphonso McAuley was just one of the funniest people ever and he kept it just lively all the time. He may be funny in the film but he was funny every second. We would wake him up from a nap and he’d be funny. Not only that but he really kept everybody on a good note. We were tired and he just kept that uplifting and happy feeling. It’s just a blessing to be there and the more you are reminded of that, it just feels good to be in that moment.”
In case audiences don’t get that Ross’s character is the more innocent heartfelt one, they gave him a stutter to boot. “It was written with a stutter. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to play the role. I didn’t go out for any other role. My agents and managers were like, ‘Come on. I think it’s a good idea for you to go out for Andre, the powerful guy.’ I thought it would be nice for me to do something that was different and vulnerable. I wanted to be the underdog in the film. You can love this character’s subtleties. I thought it would be an interesting character to play with a stutter and the speech impediment. So, I worked on that for a minute with Mikelti Williams who I did ATL with. I called him up, ‘I’m doing this role.’ I knew he did Bubba in Forrest Gump so he helped me with the delivery and we did research. I think that was one of the bigger reasons I wanted to play that character. I was a little nervous about it.”
Pride opens to theatres on March 23rd.
For the trailer, posters and more movie info, go to the Pride Movie Page.
Stay tuned for updates.