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September 2007
THE HUNTING PARTY: An Interview with Terrence Howard

An Interview with Terrence Howard

By Wilson Morales

September 3, 2007

Not long after “Hustle and Flow” came out, Terrence Howard must have been on every major producer’s wish list. Lot of offers were coming in and he carefully chose to take on project that offered more than your average popcorn film. Instead, he took on a film that deals with reality and hits you with news that you may pay attention. In his latest film, ‘The Hunting Party’, Howard plays a cameraman to Richard Gere’s reporter who doesn’t know when to give up on a political story and puts everyone’s lives at risk, including Howard’s character. In speaking to blackfilm.com, Howard talks about working with Gere, shooting in Bosnia, and his upcoming projects.

Was it difficult to choose a movie after ‘Hustle and Flow’? You were being sought for a lot of high profiled films.

Terrence Howard: No. you go looking for things that will challenge you. You want to work with the directors that will inspire you. You can go to the yellow pages and look up all these directors that have been around for the last 30 years and are looking for new blood to ignite their films or you can go and find a director that is new and has new blood. That’s what I’ve been looking for; not necessarily scripts but new directors that can challenge me more than anything and educate me at the same time. Do I expect ‘The Hunting Party’ to be this huge worldwide financial blockbuster? No, it was never intended to be that. Will this movie open up the consciousness of people’s minds? You watch the movie and you get a better understanding of where we are in the world and our responsibility as journalists, as actors, and as constituents. We have a greater responsibility in this movie and it relays all of that.

As an actor, was it difficult for you to find the balance between the absurdity of the whole situation and the seriousness of it?

TH: No. It’s a very grim story to be told but that is what is comedy is supposed to do plus make light of a heavy situation. It’s the only way to make these harsh realities that should be unrealities of life palpable so that we aren’t forced to repeat them.

How was it working with Richard Gere?

TH: You know, Richard is beautiful. He’s a plethora of choices and has walked through a million gambits of falling before a director or having to stand above a director so he’s learned how to make that walk properly; and if you watch carefully, you will gain about 30-40 years of experience by spending three months working with him.

Was there anything more that you wanted to add to your character that wasn’t on the script?

TH: I wanted him to be a little bit more free in order for my character to work. According to the writer-director’s perception of him, my character had to have a lot more feel on the return back to Sarajevo and I had to learn to accept that.

What was it like shooting on location in Bosnia?

TH: It was like having the world as a soundstage. We didn’t have to pretend that there were landmines in these lush green forests. We didn’t have to pretend that there were sympathetic Serbians walking about because we had about 2-3 bodyguards with each person. That was necessary because of the lack of amicable affections towards American; because of President Clinton’s lack of response during that time because of the world’s lack of response during that time to the people who came to those individual’s aids initially was the people we declared the biggest terrorist in the world, the Taliban. When the Soviets attacked them and the United Nations pulled out, it was the Talibans that showed up and defended these people for a time.

Do you think the role of the U.N is an exaggeration in this film?

TH: No. It’s the truth. It’s the absolute truth.

Is it meant to push the international community forward?

TH: No. It’s to bring them to court. Some of them need to be put on trial for war crimes. That’s what I got out of it.

Did you feel any animosity from normal people there?

TH: No. These people are a little bit more involved emotionally and spiritually than we are. Sometimes, death and tragedy, extreme tragedy can do that to you. The people that were in our film, about 95% of them, were extras and from Sarajevo. There were actual victims of those war crimes and three of the girls I dealt with had been raped during that whole period. They had watched their fathers and brothers be killed throughout that war or be lined up with thousands of men and boys were just wiped out. They didn’t show animosity to me but they did show a show a lack of trust to the powers that be.

Do you have members of your family who are Muslim? Did you take the opportunity while you were in Bosnia….

TH: Yes, I went to the Mosque. I was welcome there, to hear the prayers as I walked by every morning and every evening and it touched my heart. I’m not a Muslim anymore.

I didn’t you know you were…

TH: Yes, I was raised as a Muslim. I was nice to speak Arabic again and be back in that world of brotherhood again.

You play a cameraman on film, but how good are you in real life with the equipment? Did you learn how to handle it from this film?

TH: Yes, I did. That’s a solid way of watching a very loud and noisy world. It was the first time in a long time that I had my anonymity back again because the camera becomes a bigger personality than the person holding it. You’re wondering what he’s watching and that becomes a powerful tool.

What’s your criticism towards American journalists?

TH: These are people who put their asses on the line for the last 6000 years. The journalists are the historians of our time. We call them journalists, photo-journalists, film reporters now but they are the true historians that sat there at the edge of the battle of Gettysburg and wrote down the true things that were taking place and walked across the field afterwards and drew out descriptions of these things. They are carrying a long tradition of seeing things. I learned a lot I feel like I contributed to it in my own artistic medium called acting. Hopefully this film will end up in the libraries of schools, or somewhere to try to inspire people to do more.

What’s your next project?

TH: The next project I’m doing is a film called ‘Fighting’ directed by Dito (Montiel), who did ‘A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints’. Channing Tatum is in the film as well.

In the last year you have had a lot of film projects.

TH: Not too many. I did ‘Iron Man’ and ‘August Rush’.

How do you walk away from this and with all that you learned go on to do your next project? Did you have enough time in between films to get your bearings together?

TH: I didn’t have a lot of time between that film and ‘August Rush’. I went into ‘August Rush’ right after that. I have learned that you do need to take a good four months or more for yourself and get in touch with you so you don’t go crazy because it’s easy for all these character to stay with you and you forget who you are at the end of the day.

What’s going on with “The Perfect Holiday”?

TH: It’s probably the only project I’m worried about. I don’t celebrate Christmas but that was my manager’s project and I play a light hearted character to Queen Latifah and I thought I needed that.

What about “Awake”?

TH: That was a great project. It’s about anesthetic awareness. It’s a shocker to wake up in the middle of surgery and not be able to move and to feel everything and not be able to scream out.

‘THE HUNTING PARTY’ opens on September 7, 2007



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