ROMAN J. ISRAEL. ESQ.
About The Cast
To play opposite Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell was cast as George Pierce, the
head of a large law firm who invites Roman to join when he is asked to shut down
Jackson's civil rights practice. "I was incredibly drawn to the story from the
opening page," he says. "Dan is an incredible writer. It's an incredibly humane
script. It's got so much heart, and works on an acutely intellectual level."
"George is a lawyer who's lost his way in the checks and balances of the
responsibility and burden of running such a big and successful law firm," says
Farrell. "George is a creature of ambition - he's intelligent and has reached a
great degree of success - but I don't know how content he is. He's a bit full of
his own self-importance, and there's a bit of a moral vacuum in his life."
For Gilroy, part of the joy of directing was watching the scenes between
Washington and Farrell. "You've got two great talents in the same frame, it was
amazing to watch," he says.
Carmen Ejogo, who audiences will remember from Ava DuVernay's Selma, takes the
role of Maya Alston, the civil rights activist who befriends Roman.
"Maya is running the offshoot of a national organization - in essence, it's
all-volunteer," says Gilroy. "At first, you think she has everything put
together and she's taking charge, but when she sees Roman's battle, she opens up
and reveals how vulnerable she is herself.."
"When one of her colleagues dismisses Roman as an eccentric, she comes to his
defense," says Ejogo. "Her line is, 'You stand on his shoulders.' None of the
work being done today would have been possible without people like Roman, and
she may be the one person who sees that."
She was excited to join the project after reading Gilroy's screenplay. "There
was something intensely soulful about this piece that resonated with me," she
says. "It's also a subject matter that felt very prescient and for many reasons
felt like worthy material to get into."
"The challenge for any of us is to figure out how to pursue a life that is
gracious and caring of others when there is money involved - that is, most of us
become ambitious to earn more and provide ourselves a better life and
potentially lose sight of our compassionate selves in the process," says Ejogo.
"Roman and Maya both instinctively and intuitively know this - money muddles
Ejogo enjoyed the experience of working opposite Washington. "Denzel is very,
very methodical and very committed to the choices he's making," she says. "He's
very focused as a result, and you come onto the set with regard and appreciation
for that - it's always Roman that you are encountering when you are with Denzel
on the set."
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