“Euphoria” and “Fear the Walking Dead” star Colman Domingo sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “Hollywood at Home,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Domingo talks about how he was cast as Ali Muhammad in “Euphoria,” bringing out the complexities of every character in his upcoming adaptation of “The Color Purple,” getting exposed to directing during his time on “Fear the Walking Dead,” and much more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “Hollywood at Home” featuring Colman Domingo –
On being cast as Ali Muhammad in “Euphoria”: “Well, I was meeting, apparently, a lot of people during that Sundance. So I met Sam [Levinson] in the basement of an after party for “Birth of a Nation” that I was there with. And yeah, so I met Sam, and we just, we kicked it. And we talked about things for like three hours, we just kept going. And so I think a lot of those conversations came to understand who I was not only as a person, but as an artist. So when these roles came up, he was like, ‘Oh, you’re waiting for this?’ Or ‘I’m writing Ali Muhammad for you.’ And I was like, ‘So what is that?’ He was like, ‘He’s the guy who likes jazz, who was a crackhead, who, you know, is in recovery, and he’s really trying to have an effect on this young woman, played by Zendaya.’ And at the time, I’m not– you know, I’m much older than Zendaya, I didn’t know she was a Disney star, it’s just ‘Oh, some young girl, I’ve heard her name here and there.’ So it just felt great and it still feels great too. Because I love– when I tell you, I love everything that Ali has to say and what its function is on the show, because he is the moral compass in many ways, although he’s also a not-so-trustworthy narrator in his own right, because he suffered from the disease of addiction. But I know that he’s trying, and he’s trying to have an impact on this young woman. And it also impacts him, he feels like he’s doing some good in the world. So, I love that character. And I love what it does. And I try to be meaningful with every role that I do. And hopefully it has some larger impact. And it’s not just entertaining, but it’s also, you know, showing a slice of humanity and giving a complex representation for another African-American man. So it falls in line with everything that I feel purposeful and mindful as an artist, and it’s a lot in that character.”
On how “Fear the Walking Dead” influenced his career: “Well, that show, that’s the exact opposite of what I’m doing on “Euphoria.” That is, I’m playing someone who has a very, you know, wobbly moral compass. But he’s also– he’s turned into a villain. A full out, you know, sociopath in many ways. But I get to have so much size and fun with that. I get to wear– every season, I have a different costume and a different facial hair, you name it. Different objectives. And it’s big television, it’s very, very much about, like, world building. And it’s about examining ‘Who are we?’ When, quote unquote, when the shit hits the fan. And you know, who will you become? That’s a fun show, I had a great time doing it. And I’ve taken on the responsibility of rewriting scripts in the moments that relate to my character, they give me a lot of leeway. And I’m now a producer on the show as well. So they know how involved I am. It’s really changed my career. In many ways. I’m a television director because of it. I get to now play behind the camera with them, you know, because I love the world.”
On exploring the deep complexities of characters in “The Color Purple” remake: “I know that that is my intention. It’s like– that was very clear to me when I had my first conversations with Blitz about Mister. And we even found a really beautiful moment, actually, in rehearsal, between myself and Corey Hawkins, who plays my son, Harpo. We found a moment that may not have been written on the page. But it’s something that we knew, and I think because, Corey and I, we feel very responsible for showing these complex representations of black men in their fullness. In every single way. We also want to make sure we show love. And so there’s a moment that came organically. In a rehearsal, we had an idea about something. And I said, ‘Can we try this?’ And Blitz, he was so moved. He was like, ‘That’s what it is.’ Because sometimes– I think a lot of times– if it’s not on the page fully, it’s up to the individuals to actually bring what they know, or what they hope, as well, to make it more complex. And I think that he’s drawn in The Color Purple, even in the book, truly, as, he’s got a dark spirit, you know? But I know it was also Alice Walker’s intention to make sure that we fleshed that out. You can flesh out anything with a character. Just because someone says, let’s say, ‘I hate you.’ The line is, ‘I hate your guts.’ It doesn’t always have to be spoken with vitriol. It can actually be spoken with love. It can actually be spoken with pain. With hurt. There’s many other different adjectives that you can use. And so why don’t you use the whole, you know, coloring book? And I think that’s what we did with that. So it makes it more complex and a bit more challenging.”
On whether he felt emotional while shooting on a former plantation for “The Color Purple”: “Of course you do. You feel that psychic trauma. You do. I know you do. Sometimes you’re angry, you don’t know why you’re angry. Sometimes you’re sad, you don’t know why you’re sad. I feel that, if you’re open– and you’re required as artists to be so open– you’re also inviting in that energy. And so there’s energy that you have to work through, to be honest. You know, sometimes you have to work through even the way you’re being spoken to, you have to make sure that everyone’s conscious of it, of the land that you’re on and the history that you’re on. So we’ve got to make some very mindful choices about how we deal with each other, how we protect each other, how we love each other, and take care of each other. So it makes you a bit more mindful. I think it does. And I think that was our attempt.”
More about “Hollywood at Home”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “Hollywood at Home” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), Iain Armitage (“Young Sheldon”), Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Aaron Cooley (“The First Lady”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Wayne Federman (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Frances Fisher (“Titanic,” “Unforgiven”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), LaMonica Garrett (“1883,” “Sons of Anarchy”) Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Nathan Kress (“iCarly”), Jaren Lewison (“Never Have I Ever”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Melissa Manchester (“Don’t Cry Out Loud”), Molly Smith Metzler (“Maid,” “Shameless”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Younger”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Joey and Daniella Pantoliano (“The Matrix,” “Memento”), Ross Patterson (“Range 15”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Kyla Pratt (“The Proud Family”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), Reid Scott (“Veep”), Paul Scheer (“The League,” “Veep”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future”), Tramell Tillman (“Severance”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” “Suddenly I See”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.