Following great success at Sundance earlier this year, Director Boots Riley brought his debut Feature SORRY TO BOTHER YOU to Toronto for a Canadian Premiere tonight.
Centering on a young man named Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) who is struggling to make ends meet. Decidedly, he takes on a Telemarketer job as a last ditch attempt before eviction from his uncle’s garage. Taking on a new persona or what he calls his “white voice”, Cassius finds himself excelling and climbing the corporate ranks much to the disagreement of his artist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) and friends at work who are plotting to bring on a union into the workplace. Things get increasingly complicated when he uncovers are horrific secret undertaking which one of his company’s biggest clients is plotting under influencial power player Steve Lift (Armie Hammer).
Despite it being Father’s Day, Sorry to Bother You brought-out a packed house at CineplexYonge & Dundas to see the buzzed Film first and hear Riley speak. Some of you may know the former Rapper from his work as Frontman of Hip-Hop act The Coup. Despite having filmmaking aspirations, Riley dropped-out Film School to pursue music only now to come full circle, better late than never. He also once worked as a Telemarketer too like the Film’s flawed hero, Cassius.
Riley tells the audience about the characters in this quirky, out-there journey of self-discovery, shot over 28 days at 61 locations, exploring at what costs one is willing to go against what they believe in truly. “I wrote things from a human place, writing every single character as if they were me. They all represent conflict going on in my head”. “I had to trust my views of the world and let them come out.”.
The Film’s breakout star is Lakeith Stanfield who plays Cassius. Riley tells us about his casting choice. “His manager was really persistent”, he says, met with laughter by the audience. “When I cast him, there had only been one episode of Atlanta and I only knew him from Short Term 12.”. “I went and met with him he had a full beard. I realized he was a much older soul than his years would let on. He also had the right element of crazy.”.
One key scene however was cut from the Film, reveals Riley. “There was a full frontal (non-sexual) nudity scene and I needed him to be the most vulnerable he can be. It was a deal breaker and he cut me off and said ‘I’ve been waiitng for a role like this!’.”. He adds, “I was able to cut it out. He (Stanfield) achieved what few great actors can achieve, this vulnerability – letting him experiece the feelings, never worrying what he looks like.”.
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