Miguel: Welcome back to They Reminisce Over You. I’m Miguel.
Christina: And I’m Christina. And today we’re going to talk about an actor who’s been around for a long time, but, has had a bit of a comeback. One Bokeem Woodbine, aka Mr. I-ain’t-going-out-like-no-punk!
Miguel: I knew you were going to do that. You beat me to it. That’s okay. That’s okay.
Christina: Shall we get into it?
Miguel: I think we shall.
Christina: Let’s do it.
Miguel: Okay. All right. So, he’s, as you said, been in a lot of different things. His career started out on fire. He was in everything for a quick, say, six year period. So he was in movies like Strapped, which was his first one. Crooklyn, Jason’s Lyric, Panther, Dead Presidents. All of these Negro classics. [Both laugh]
He was in, he was also in some mainstream Hollywood films as well like [The] Big Hit, 3000 Miles to Graceland, Life. He did a couple of epi–well actually just one episode on The Sopranos. So, he was moving and doing a lot in his early career. So, I think we should start talking about some of those movies.
Christina: So, let’s take it from the beginning. Just a quick note about his early days. Of course, I always try to find some background info.
Christina: So, he was attending a performing arts high school and in his same graduating class was Marlon Wayans, Adrian Brody and Omar Epps. And as he said in the interview on The Breakfast Club, I think, he’s like, well, if I had graduated. So, I didn’t realize he was was a high school dropout. And then Charlemagne was like, did they graduate? And he’s like, I know I didn’t. He’s like, I don’t know about them, but–
Miguel: Can’t confirm if they walked but, I didn’t.
Christina: Yeah. So this kind of leads into how he began his career. Technically his first role is in Juice in 1992. He was an extra and they were like, hey, you look like Treach.
Miguel: Which I don’t understand. I couldn’t find any pictures of him with the braids. So, I don’t see anybody would say, hey you and Treach look alike.
Christina: I don’t know but, he ended up earning a couple extra bucks ’cause he said as a stand-in, I forgot how much he got paid, but he said he got a whole $125. For an extra, he’d get paid less.
Miguel: He made $50 as an extra and then they gave him an extra $75 for being Treach’s stand-in.
Christina: Which is exactly, he needed exactly $75 to go get an Africa tattoo, which was kind of the driving force between going for this.
Miguel: And in all of his early movies you can see this tattoo prominently.
Christina: Well, cause they are always putting him in tank tops.
Miguel: Yeah. He’s always in tank tops or shirtless.
Christina: Yeah. So that was technically his first role though no one would see him because he’s an extra and a stand-in. So we’ve probably seen his shoulders or something.
Miguel: Right. Back of his head and he had dreads so we wouldn’t have recognized him either.
Christina: Right. ’Cause we’ve only ever seen him bald since then.
Miguel: Or wearing a wig.
Christina: So he was 19 at the time and he said he was just a bum, on his mama’s couch.
Miguel: His words, not ours.
Christina: Yes, his words. Bum on his mama’s couch. So, this kind of came at the right time because the casting director at Juice, just kind of, she kind of saw something in him, Jaki Brown-Karman. And so, he said maybe about a year or so later, she called him and invited him to come to an open call for Strapped, which he ended up getting. And he’s the lead character. It was directed by Forest Whitaker. So that’s a pretty good first time actor role is to get a leading role and being directed by someone who’s well known already.
Miguel: Yeah. And it was an HBO movie so it went straight to cable so everybody could see it. You didn’t have to pay for it and go see it in theaters. And HBO movies were a big thing at the time so it’s not like it was, oh you’re doing a TV movie. No, it was a big deal.
Christina: Right. So for someone who’s just starting out this being your first real gig, I would say he probably felt pretty good.
Miguel: I would think so.
Christina: We just watched it yesterday. And this was actually my first time watching it. And, you know, sometimes you watch old movies and you’re just like, wow, that was bad. Or, or, it just like, it was definitely dated.
Miguel: It was.
Christina: But, overall the movie was pretty good though. I think. I mean, we laughed at parts that weren’t funny.
Miguel: There was some moments—
Christina: Just because.
Miguel: That some, like, editorial choices could have been different.
Miguel: But on the whole, for his first film it was really good.
Christina: Yeah. But also I think a lot of stuff was just a little more theatrical at the time. Cause remember when we started rewatching Oz? Because I also had never watched Oz and I was saying, this feels like it should be like a stage play because it was so theatrical and you were like, I didn’t even notice that at the time.
Miguel: I didn’t. And this kind of fits right along in with that, it just seems like this could be a play.
Christina: Yeah. Just the way…I dunno how to describe it because I’m not in TV, but it’s just the way the cuts and stuff and transitions feels very like—
Miguel: Yeah, the transitions, the music cues. Like, soon as the movie starts, a kid gets shot. And as soon as the bullet hits Chi Ali, there’s just something in background goes, “Respect!” So, there’s a lot of things like that happening.
Christina: It’s theatrical.
Miguel: Yes. Very much.
Christina: But, in terms of, again, like I was saying, this being his first role, he was good.
Miguel: Yeah. Yeah he was. Especially looking at some of his other movies to come after. I’ll talk about that as we get to them. This was a good start.
Christina: Yeah. And this movie seemed to be, um, I don’t know how many–these people were new actors at the time, but it was basically a lot of familiar faces and a lot of New York rappers.
Miguel: Right. If you were a rapper or from New York you were in this movie. So there was like Kool Moe Dee, Busta Rhymes, Fredro and Sticky Fingaz from Onyx. Das EFX just walked out of a hole in a building and shook somebody’s hand and then walked away. Uh, there’s some more that I’m missing but it had a lot of cameos in it.
Christina: Yes. And then even just the, like the non-rapper actors, these are people we just see in different movies, too.
Miguel: Like, here’s the guy that was on this show and that movie and yeah.
Christina: So there’s a lot of, just a lot of familiar faces overall. I feel like every five minutes we’re like, hey!
Miguel: Yeah. There’s the guy, but young.
Christina: Or this person looks really familiar, but I don’t recognize him because this is from 1993, so I can’t quite place them.
Miguel: Like, is that Monie Love? Yes it is.
Christina: So, I would say this is quite a good stepping stone for a new actor who was just sitting on his mama’s couch.
Miguel: Yeah. I think that’s a good start to a career. Working at UPS and quitting, you were sitting on your mama’s couch and calling yourself a bum, and here you are starring in an HBO film a year later.
Christina: Not bad at all. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend watching it.
Christina: Just for nostalgia’s sake. Even if you’ve never seen it before.
Miguel: And just go into it knowing that it’s not like cinema classic. It’s not a great movie, but it’s of the time.
Christina: Yeah. I think you could see it as a classic as in, it was just those movies during that time.
Miguel: Right. It fits that period very well. It takes you back there.
Christina: Yeah. So even though this was my first time watching it, it still felt nostalgic. And plus I had seen, I won’t give spoilers, even though this was 1993, but I saw the scene with him and Fredro. They were beefin’, shall we say?
Christina: And Bokeem knew, if he went outside, shit was about to go down.
Christina: So, he’s in the house with his grandma, his sister, his mom, and yeah, it’s not supposed to be funny—
Miguel: But it’s hilarious.
Christina: But it’s hilarious. So, I saw that clip just floating around on Twitter. So, it was nice to see it in context.
Miguel: ’Cause out of context it makes zero sense.
Christina: Yep. So I would recommend watching it. Or rewatching it.
Christina: So after that, in terms of another like, pretty substantial movie role, he was in Panther. I don’t remember if I watched this. ’Cause a lot of movies around that time, you know, I would see little ads for them or whatever, but where I was living, I was, you know, back in B.C. at that time. Like these quote unquote “Black movies,” either they wouldn’t come out at all in my town or if they did, they’d be in theaters for like a week or two. So, if you missed it, you missed it, right.
So, a lot of times, I can’t remember if I’ve actually seen the movies or not, or if I’ve just seen so many clips over the years. So, I don’t quite remember this movie, but, I saw that he was like in all the posters and he was listed in the main cast list. So I found some, somebody had uploaded the movie on YouTube. So, I started watching, I think I got maybe 30 minutes or so into it. And he–he has a sizeable role in here.
Miguel: Yeah, I did watch it then. And I didn’t remember anything about it because it’s been so long. This came out in what, ’95? Something like that. I remember nothing about the movie other than it’s about the Black Panthers. And I don’t think I remember that from the movie.
Christina: [Laughing] You didn’t remember it about the Black Panthers? Why would it be called Panther?
Miguel: Well, what I mean I don’t remember anything that happened in movie, but knowing that it’s about the Black Panthers, I know what the story is.
Miguel: That’s what I meant. But, just watching it, I also watched maybe 30 minutes of it. I do want to finish it just because I completely forgot that Bobby Brown was in it. And—
Christina: [Laughing] Him and Chris Rock were the neighborhood alcoholics.
Miguel: So, anything with Bobby Brown in it, I’m watching.
Christina: The neighborhood alcoholics—
Miguel: They got perms.
Christina: With matching perms and matching scarves.
Miguel: Yeah. So I definitely need to finish this movie.
Christina: Yeah. I think I stopped when they were harassing the cop that was sitting there watching them. Yeah. So, I definitely want to finish this movie. So, I can’t really say much about it cause I don’t remember if I watched it. So, I don’t remember anything more than the 30 minutes I watched earlier today.
Miguel: All right.
Christina: But it seems like it’s a good movie and he also delivered again. So, he plays one of the guys that, is in the Black Panther party. So this is showing how it’s forming, basically.
Miguel: The early days of the Black Panthers.
Christina: Yeah. So he was part of the early recruiting crew.
Christina: He seems to have done, the bit that I saw, it looks like he did a pretty good job in that one too. And it was a different role than what he was playing in Strapped. So, in Strapped, he’s kind of like—
Miguel: Basically the same life that he was living in real life. He’s a 19 year old kid, just out of high school, living with his mama and three sisters and grandmother and nephew or whatever.
Christina: He’s just trying to do right but shit just keeps happening.
Miguel: He’s a bike messenger.
Miguel: And ends up in a situation that he’s got to do some things to get out of.
Christina: To protect his loved ones.
All right. So that’s all I got to say about Panther. Shall we move on to another 1995 movie, which I guess we don’t really have to say that much about, Dead Presidents. Cause we basically talked about this in the Larenz Tate episode.
Miguel: Yeah, so if you would like to hear more about Dead Presidents, you can go check out that Larenz Tate episode, “What You Say About My Mama?” I believe it was episode eight or so.
Christina: I don’t remember. So I will say sure.
Miguel: Yeah, I could be wrong, I don’t know. But in Dead Presidents, he was part of a group of soldiers in Vietnam that was in the same unit as Larenz Tate. He was the loose cannon in this movie. Like, when I say loose cannon, I say this all the time, he was the loosest of cannons.
Christina: I mean, you could call him that. He was…crazy.
Miguel: Yeah. He would basically carry around a dead person’s head in his backpack for good luck.
Christina: Yeah. When they were in the war.
Miguel: Yeah. And ironically, when he got rid of the head, that’s when all hell broke loose. So maybe he was right. Who knows?
Christina: I don’t think so.
Miguel: Me neither, but it sounded like something good to say.
Christina: And then they got back home and he became a preacher.
Miguel: Yeah. He was like the squarest of all of them. He’s a preacher. He’s running his church. He’s walking around with his glasses and cardigan on. Dressed like Mr. Rogers. Did a complete 180.
Christina: Yeah. So, in those three movies alone, he’s showing some range already.
Miguel: Yeah. ’Cause none of the characters are similar other than the fact that he’s Black. [Laughs] That’s it.
Christina: Yeah. Yeah, so not a bad run for a couple of years. And during that time he had a few smaller roles too. He was in Crooklyn, he was in an episode of X-Files. He did Freeway with Reese Witherspoon.
Miguel: Yes. I remember seeing that when it first came out and completely forgot about it until I saw it on his IMDb. So, I need to go back and watch that one as well. Because I think the movie is funny just because of Reese Witherspoon’s overacting.
Christina: Yeah, she’s supposed to play this bad-ass little girl who grows up in a horrible environment. Her mom’s a drug addict and a prostitute and her stepdad’s molesting her. So she’s in a bad situation. She’s poor and illiterate. She literally can’t read.
Christina: And, you know, what’s interesting, actually, what you just said, the only thing he had in common with the last three characters is that they’re all Black. But in this movie, had a very small role. They made him play a very stereotypical role.
Miguel: Cause he was Black.
Christina: Yeah, he’s a gangster. He got–spoiler alert. He was killed in a drive-by right after she came by to say goodbye.
Miguel: We’re going to throw all the stereotypes at him in this one.
Christina: And his character, there was no need for it, just except to show that she’s, I don’t know, poor?
Miguel: Yeah. She’s living in the hood.
Christina: Yeah. So, she’s living in the hood, so she must be in love with some gangster, right? So yeah, that kind of annoyed me. I was like, I guess, good for him for booking a movie, but then having him play the most stereotypical character, that did nothing for the movie. Because the movie is about her getting caught up with a serial killer when she’s trying to like, run away to her grandmother’s house.
Miguel: Yeah. It’s essentially a modern day telling of Little Red Riding Hood. That’s how it’s billed.
Christina: Yeah. So his character was completely useless except for to accentuate the fact that she’s living in a poor neighborhood and she’s a, I dunno, bad girl or something. So that kind of annoyed me, but, hey if the checks cleared for him…I ain’t mad.
Miguel: Hey, he got that check and it was a big Hollywood film.
Christina: Yep. So, I kind of want to watch the movie just to see how ridiculous is.
Miguel: I remember bits and pieces of it. And like I was telling you earlier, after she—there’s something that happens to Kiefer Sutherland and she’s responsible for it. And then she laughs at him afterwards. I just love that part.
Christina: Yeah. So he’s staying booked and busy ’cause his run isn’t done yet.
Miguel: Not at all.
Christina: So, ’98, he’s in Caught Up. [Laughs]
Miguel: Oh, yes.
Christina: Which is the infamous “I ain’t going out like no punk!” This movie’s terrible.
Miguel: It is, but it’s entertaining.
Christina: But, BET used to play it all the time. So, this is all I would see—
Miguel: Is that commercial of him saying [movie clip plays] “Fuck it, I ain’t goin’ out like no punk!”
Christina: You know, I feel bad saying this. ’Cause it was kind of a joke for me before, I’d be like, ooh yeah, Bokeem Woodbine.
Christina: And now I feel bad. Like kind of making a joke out of it because I’m a real—like I’m actually a fan. Like, it’s not a joke. But because BET reduced him to this line…
Miguel: That’s all you were giving him.
Christina: It was a joke for a while, right? And I was like, oh, here comes Bokeem, “I ain’t goin’ out like no punk!”
Miguel: Yeah, it’s the same, like just seeing that commercial over and over again, it became a punchline. Like, if somebody is doing anything and they need a Black person in it, the default would be Bokeem Woodbine. It was like, you know what this movie needs? Bokeem Woodbine.
Christina: Yeah. And I guess that’s probably, which we’ll get into, what he calls his slump. Because as we’re looking at his early work, even though he did a lot of quote “Black movies,” they did have a range of characters for him. Because after that, in ’99, he played Life. It was smaller a role, but it was a different character too. So—
Miguel: He was mute.
Christina: Yes, he was mute and ended up getting into some trouble.
Miguel: A little bit.
[Clip from Life plays] 
Christina: But, he never got caught though.
Miguel: He didn’t. And he actually, he was able to get out of prison because of his talent as a baseball player.
Christina: We rewatched this movie a couple of days ago or something earlier. I don’t know, days. What are days? Recently.
Christina: And I had seen this movie before. I’m pretty sure. But I didn’t really remember much, as usual. I don’t even know what goes on in my brain anymore. But It was kind of sad because it’s basically the two of them, Eddie Murphy and Martin, being in jail for life.
Miguel: Yeah. For something they didn’t really do.
Christina: So that part is sad, but somehow it’s hilarious.
Miguel: It is. It is. And he comes to the prison after they’ve been there for like 10 years or whatever, and he’s, Can’t Get Right. That’s his name, Can’t Get Right, because “he can’t get right, boss.” Uh, he’s mute. He just plays with his rubber ball and just has this goofy look on his face and he doesn’t speak. And basically they find out he can hit a ball really far, even though he’s never played baseball before. And he uses that talent to get out of jail. And that’s one of Eddie and Martin’s schemes to get out of prison is to say, hey, we’re his management, you need to take us, too. And it doesn’t work.
Christina: Well, it doesn’t work for them.
Miguel: It doesn’t work for them. But he gets out and he gets to play professional baseball.
Christina: Yeah. So his character was mute. He didn’t say a word, but he was able to be very expressive in other ways.
Miguel: Yes. With his facial expressions.
Christina: So he, in one of these interviews we watched, he was talking about how he would just not speak all day, just to stay in character. And people were always trying to break him. And no one was able to accept for Eddie Murphy. He lied to him and said, oh, we’re, we’re done shooting for the day. So he’s like, all right, I can talk now. Oh, it was on the Jemelle Hill podcast, he thought he couldn’t curse. So he was like, let me sanitize what I said to them.
Miguel: And he just yells out, "Bye n-words!"
Christina: To which, Jemele was like, “you could say it.”
Christina: You’re allowed to curse on this podcast, but just the way he was like, “Bye n-words!” It sounded hilarious. And he’s like “oh, I can say it?” And then he proceeded to say it.
Christina: Again, now this is, what? From ’93 to ’99, he’s done all these movies. And the fact that he’s worked with like, all these different actors, directors, like, what? The Hughes Brothers, who else?
Miguel: Forest Whitaker.
Christina: Forest Whitaker. Um, Mario Van Peebles. It’s a pretty good run.
Miguel: Yeah. And he’s doing these movies with Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland.
Christina: Chris Farley.
Miguel: Chris Farley. Um, Kevin Costner.
Christina: Mark Wahlberg.
Miguel: Mark Wahlberg, Lou Diamond Phillips.
Christina: Yeah, this is—
Miguel: Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence.
Miguel: So he had a, a wide variety of characters that he had done during this time.
Christina: And he also did a few music videos. I totally forgot about him in TLC’s “Waterfalls” video. ’Cause remember we were talking about this earlier and I was like, all I remember is Shyheim getting shot. He’s the one that killed Shyheim!
Miguel: I forgot to watch it. So I didn’t see that he was the one who killed him.
Christina: I was like, oh, he killed him and he took, I’m guessing drugs, whatever he was holding in his hand.
Miguel: Right. I don’t remember that at all. I remember the Tupac video though.
Christina: So, how he met Tupac and how he ended up being in this video was back in the Juice days, because he was the stand in for Treach, as you were saying, you can’t see how people thought he favored him, but apparently Tupac did too. Because he said he was just walking and he feels someone tugging on his arm and he didn’t know who Tupac or Treach were at the time because Naughty By Nature wasn’t out yet and Tupac’s album wasn’t out yet. So he’s just like, who’s this, this guy? ’Cause he was yelling “Treach, Treach, Treach,” and he’s like, I don’t know who Treach is either.
Miguel: So he just keeps walking.
Christina: Yeah. So that was their first meeting, but he said later at a premiere party for Jason’s Lyric–oh, we totally didn’t even talk about Jason’s Lyric, did we?
Miguel: We can go back to it.
Christina: We’ll go back to that. Yeah. So at the premier party for Jason’s Lyric, he said he was standing around with a bunch of people and they’re just smoking a joint, puff, puff, pass. And he said every time Tupac would reach out, he would just never get it. So he said he broke the rotation to give it to him. And he’s like, I’d like to think he remembered that because not long after Tupac got in touch with him.
Miguel: That’s when he got the call.
Christina: Yep. Said he wanted him to be in his video for “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” and played his pal in the video. But, one thing I forgot was… so, when Tupac is like, in heaven, there’s all these people in heaven with him.
Miguel: All the random celebrities.
Christina: Yes. So I was able to pick out just Jimi Hendrix and Sammy Davis Jr. But Sammy Davis, he had standing there, cheesing and stuff. And it was so funny. ’Cause he was really, whoever was Sammy was really leaning into it. Just cheesing.
Miguel: I’m going to have to go back and look at it. ’Cause I remember that Redd Foxx was up there and who else? It was somebody else that stood out to me, but I don’t remember Sammy Davis Jr.
Christina: Oh, I don’t know how you–like, he definitely, he was the first person maybe second because Jimi Hendrix stood out to me too, but couldn’t really recognize the other people.
Miguel: Yeah. I noticed Redd Foxx and I don’t remember anybody else in it.
Christina: And they had little wings too.
Miguel: So I’m going to have to go back and watch that too.
Christina: Yeah. And then he was in couple Wu-Tang videos. Of course, he’s in the kung fu fighting scene in “Gravel Pit” because he actually–him and RZA, with their kung fu and he actually practices all that stuff too. But, let’s circle back to Jason’s Lyric.
Miguel: Yeah. Jason’s Lyric. Now this one, when I said that there was some movies where there was a lot going on. Like, in Strapped, even though that was his first film, it didn’t seem like it. It seemed like he was a seasoned veteran. Whereas by the time we get to Jason’s Lyric, there’s a couple of times where it was a little overacting, if you ask me. Cause he played an alcoholic who was troubled. Uh, what was the phrase he was using about the characters that he plays?
Christina: Emotionally challenged.
Miguel: Emotionally challenged. So, he plays Joshua, who is emotionally challenged. And there’s a lot of scenes in this movie where, like I said, there could be some overacting happening. And a quick sidebar about this movie. You have all of these people from New York playing Houstoners, or Houstonians, whatever you guys are. I don’t know. I’m not from Texas.
Christina: I think Houstonians. I don’t know.
Miguel: But, the accents are so bad. Especially Treach. His accent is the worst. It’s like, have you ever heard what a person from the south sounds like? Because that’s not it.
Christina: It’s funny because his like, not just the accent, his voice sounds different.
Christina: Because when he opened his mouth, I was like, that doesn’t sound like Treach at all.
Miguel: Yeah. The only one who sounds like they have a legit Southern accent is Eddie Griffin. That’s it. The rest of them, it’s like where are you people from? Really?
Christina: New York. Or New Jersey or something like that.
Miguel: Yeah. East coast.
Christina: Actually, is Jada Pinkett is from L.A.?
Miguel: Uh, no, she’s from somewhere in the east, too.
Miguel: I think she’s from Baltimore. ’Cause that’s where her and Tupac met, like in high school.
Christina: Oh, and then they end up in L.A., both end up in L.A.?
Miguel: But anyway, back to Jason’s Lyric, he plays a trouble character who’s in and out of jail. He lives with his mom and his brother and ironically Forest Whitaker’s in this movie as well, playing his father. He has a small role at the beginning and–
Christina: But pivotal.
Miguel: Yes, a very pivotal role in this movie and basically sets his life on a path of destruction.
Christina: Yeah. I think the casting for the kid version–
Miguel: Oh, it was perfect.
Christina: —of him was so good. ’Cause there’s a part where, the kid kind of, like, he’s upset. So he clenches his fists and his face is cliched up too. So, now when I see Bokeem make that face…
Miguel: He does it.
Christina: I think of the kid.
Miguel: He makes that face and he walks with his hands clenched like that, and like, his butt cheeks are real tight. So, this kid was able to do that too.
Christina: And he had the ears and everything.
Miguel: Yeah. It looked like it could have been his son.
Christina: This was another one of those movies where I’m like, I thought I didn’t watch this movie, but there are some scenes that were so familiar. But I think it’s just seeing the same clips over and over again.
Miguel: Seeing, just seeing music videos and whatnot. If you do choose to watch it again, there’s a lot of overacting in it, but—
Christina: I enjoyed it.
Miguel: Yeah, it’s an enjoyable movie.
Christina: It’s just like, I don’t know. I think, when you watch an old movie, things are just filmed differently… and budgets and whatever. Actually I don’t know if they meant to do this, but remember where they were having their romantic times in the field and then there was grass in one cut and then we cut to another—
Miguel: And there were flowers and then you go back there weren’t any flowers.
Christina: That was supposed to be some kind of like…
Miguel: Thinking about it now, I think that was supposed to be the field where–
Christina: His dad took them.
Miguel: His dad took them when they were kids.
Christina: ’Cause because being with her…I don’t know.
Miguel: Took him back to a happy place or happy time in his life.
Christina: Yeah. I just think the transition was not clear.
Miguel: Yeah, it wasn’t a good one.
Christina: ’Cause we’re like, in a different field. [Laughs]
Miguel: Yeah. And he’s got grass in his ass crack. Anyway, if you want to see a lot of Allen Payne’s ass, you can watch this movie.
Christina: You get Jada Pinkett’s ass too.
Christina: Or her body double.
Miguel: Yeah. It’s definitely double. It’s not her.
Christina: There’s one scene where it’s clearly not her.
Christina: They’re trying to distract you with the boobs, but—
Miguel: But that ain’t her.
Christina: You could clearly see it’s not her.
Miguel: Exactly. They had the camera a little too high on the chin.
Miguel: And gave it away.
Christina: Yeah. But, I wonder if maybe that role, um, he was playing like an alcoholic and also just emotionally challenged, as he likes to say. Maybe that overacting is because he’s always, he was saying how he’s always been typecast as this type of person, even though he’s not this type of person. Whereas even though in these other roles, he’s playing people in, I guess, troubled situations, the characters themselves weren’t necessarily as troubled as his character in Jason’s Lyric, if that makes any sense. Maybe that was just harder for him to play because that’s just not who he is. So he had to kind of like draw from experiences that he doesn’t know.
Miguel: Yeah. I don’t know if that’s the reason, but it was just for me, a lot of exaggerated stuff.
Christina: It’s one thing to play a tough guy, if you already have experiences where you have to be a tough guy and it’s another thing to play—
Miguel: A drunk.
Christina: A drunk and just general fuck up.
Miguel: So, I’ll give him a pass on that one. But again, it was another major film that he was in. The good times were still going.
Christina: But, he says he felt like he hit a slump around 2001. If you look at his IMDb–
Miguel: He’s still working.
Christina: He’s constantly working. But now we’re starting to see those more stereotypical roles. The gangster, the you know, the one-offs in Law and Order.
Miguel: Yeah. Well it’s kinda like Ethan Hawke said, when we saw him being interviewed, you got to pay the mortgage. You got kids to take care of, you got car payments to make. Those are the type of movies and shows that get you through the next year.
Christina: Well, he pretty much said as much because in The Breakfast Club interview, he starts talking about the slump years as well, and Charlemagne was saying, oh, I never saw you as that. He’s like, I always just thought, you know, he worked when he wants. I understand what Charlemagne says too, because from the viewer’s point of view, like myself, we’d always just see him.
Miguel: Yeah. Cause he–it’s not like he stopped working for 15 years.
Christina: They weren’t necessarily like, big roles, but you’d always see him pop up here and there.
Miguel: It’s just not like, feature film type stuff. Like, he, I remember him in Ray, and I remember the episodes he was on the show with Regina King, Southland. Outside of that I don’t remember anything specific, but you always would see him around in things. And I think that’s kind of where the punchlines started to come up for me, because he was in so much stuff. It’s like, if there wasn’t a black person in it, it was like, why didn’t y’all call Bokeem Woodbine?
Christina: Yeah. He became like, you know, the Black guy.
Miguel: Yeah. But at the same time, like you said, now I feel bad knowing that he’s like, damn, I’m struggling out here. To us it looks like he’s just working.
Christina: Yeah. Like, even though, like you were saying, they weren’t like feature films, but it just seemed like he was working. Always working, which he was, but he was also struggling. But also, considering the run that he had too, that he got into pretty quickly, I would imagine for him, that probably feels even worse, even though he’s still working. He’s getting one thing here, one thing there.
Miguel: It’s like, I was just starring in three movies two years ago.
Christina: Yeah, like—
Miguel: And now there’s nothing.
Christina: Back to The Breakfast Club, DJ Envy wasn’t there for some reason, he was off or whatever. And Charlemagne was saying, how Envy keeps talking about the time he was in a movie with Bokeem. And Bokeem was trying to be nice. He was like, oh, he held his own. They’re like, no, he didn’t. It was terrible. And they were like, what was the name of the movie called? And he’s like, it’s called “the I need a check” movie.
Miguel: ’Cause I was hoping he would say what the actual movie was.
Christina: I found it.
Christina: So the movie is Blood of a Champion, so that was in 2006, so this is during those slump years. And fun fact, this movie was with Deborah Cox. And the reason why I say this is a fun fact, because this is one of these, according to him, "I need a check" movies. But remember that movie you hated with Larenz Tate—
Miguel: Larenz Tate and her in it.
Christina: And Deborah Cox in it. So she is she getting the shaft in terms of her acting career that she’s ending up in these terrible movies too?
Miguel: Honestly, I didn’t know she was acting until we saw that Larenz Tate movie. And then I looked at her IMDb and it’s a bunch of stuff like that. So…
Christina: Yeah. Maybe she needed the check too.
Miguel: Mortgage needs to be paid. Kids gotta go to these private schools.
Christina: I just thought it was funny because you hated that movie she was in with—
Miguel: That movie’s terrible.
Christina: Larenz and I was like, oh, now she’s in another one with Bokeem. [Laughs]
Miguel: It is terrible. It makes no sense. None of it.
Christina: It wasn’t until recently that I’ve even heard any interviews with him. He’s so, just kind of chill and nice. And he’s just kind of like, eh, it is what it is, right. And so now I feel bad cause the first time I heard an interview with him, was with Jemelle Hill, I think maybe last year, I can’t remember, semi-recently but not too recent. And they were talking about him being typecast and going through his slump and he was just like, eh, I guess I had to come to terms that when you look the way I do, people are going to cast you in certain types of roles.
Miguel: Yeah. You’re going to be that guy.
Christina: Yeah, and then I was like, aw, now I feel bad. Before, it was like, oh, where’s Bokeem? When it was like, this was all he could get because of the way the industry works, right? I mostly listened to just The Breakfast Club and the Jemele Hill podcast interviews where I’m getting most of what he’s been saying. But he also mentioned that–he said it seemed to coincide, his slump, was when Bush was in office and then his second run—
Miguel: Was when Obama was in office.
Christina: So it was like, Black is cool again. Because his career started at a time where there was like a boom for Black movies. And then it kind of fizzled out just because that’s how things work, where there’s a boom, people get comfortable. Then things go back to the status quo. And then things get uncomfortable. And then there’s a change again.
Miguel: And now the roller coaster’s going back up.
Christina: Yeah, so perhaps, maybe that is why because of just the way the industry sort of changed, right?
Miguel: Yeah. I can see that being an issue. Where there just wasn’t the opportunities that were happening before. Like, the movie studios aren’t really trying to mess with Black movies anyway, and—
Christina: And even, I think there’s probably fatigue too. ’Cause it’s like, how many times can you watch an iteration of Menace to Society or Boyz n the Hood or whatever, right?
Miguel: Yeah. So after a while the, the pushback is eventually going to happen and it just happened to coincide with the Bush years in office. I can’t confirm if that’s true, but you know what? It sounds logical to me.
Christina: That was his theory.
Miguel: Yeah. So I’ll go with that as well.
Christina: So, he said he kind of fell into a slump for about 15 years. So about 2001 to 2016 or so. And as we were saying, he was still working and he booked a couple things that were, a little bit more, high profile, shall we say? Like Ray. Apparently Devils was pretty good, according to Angela Yee.
Miguel: Yeah. I haven’t seen it yet, I want to check it out.
Christina: Yeah. And it’s a M–M. Night Shyam–Shyamalan movie. So, 50/50 chance on what kind of twist ending you’re gonna get.
Miguel: It could be good. It could be bad.
Christina: Even he said like, when he booked those, he thought the comeback was coming and then nothing came of that. So for him, his comeback in his eyes was Fargo.
Christina: Which was for me too. I remember seeing the commercials. I’m like, Bokeem Woodbine is in Fargo? I need to see this.
Miguel: Because you’re still thinking about that “I ain’t goin’ out like no punk!”
Miguel: Like, how is he in Fargo?
Christina: Yeah, and then when you think of Fargo, it’s like a bunch of White people in Minnesota talking like this or whatever. I don’t know what accent that was, but just not “I ain’t goin’ out like no punk!”
Christina: So I was just like, how is Bokeem Woodbine in Fargo? So that definitely piqued my interest, but it took me a while to finally get around to watching it. But he was in the second season, which aired 2015. So we didn’t watch it until like—
Miguel: Last week.
Christina: Last week. So, that’s how long it took for us to get around to watching it.
Miguel: No, was a couple of weeks ago.
Christina: Yeah. Last week, couple of weeks, very recently.
Christina: So, pretty much like a lot of the interviews that I kind of skimmed and stuff, he even thinks of his career as like, before Fargo and after Fargo. Because he basically thought the same thing. Because they actually asked him to audition. Even though he still had to audition, you know, they obviously had him in mind for it at least, to invite him to come and audition.
And so, he said that his wife saw him like, reading the casting call information, just the way he was like, huh? Fargo. And she’s like, I’m going to take the kids and I’m going to go to my sister’s and give you some time to prepare alone.
Miguel: And just left him at the house for a couple of days.
Christina: ’Cause you need to get this.
Miguel: Yeah. You need a job, a big one.
Christina: Yep. So, he said when he got the call that he got the part, his wife claims that he fainted.
Miguel: Yeah. He claims that he just leaned against the fridge and not fainted. I’m going with her story though. Just because.
Christina: Yeah. So he got the role and that was 2015. And like we said, it’s not like he ever stopped working, but he started booking less “I need a check” roles.
Miguel: Yeah. ’Cause he ended up getting nominated for an Emmy for that role in Fargo, where he played a hitman. Or part of a hitman crew from Kansas City, going up to Minnesota to handle some things.
Christina: With the, his twins henchmen.
Miguel: So if you haven’t seen it, no spoilers, go ahead and check it out. It’s worth watching.
Christina: Yeah. He’s in season two, but the way the show works, you don’t necessarily have to watch the seasons in order. The whole thing is good. We’re on season three.
Miguel: Going into season four now.
Christina: Yeah. Like the whole series is good. If you do want to just check him out, you can safely go straight into season two.
Miguel: Yeah. There are some things that happened in season one…
Christina: That connect.
Miguel: That refer to season two, even though it hasn’t happened yet. And then season two is about those references. And season three kind of goes back to season one in certain ways. So it kind of bounces around and there’s usually one or two characters that tie them all together.
Christina: Yeah. So, I can definitely see why he got nominated for that role because he played it very well. And I don’t know, it could be a combination of everything in terms of like experience and the material you have to work with. Cause his acting is much better.
Miguel: Yeah. It’s not Jason’s Lyric, at all.
Christina: You know what? Like you said, it’s strange because I think he did really good in Strapped. Like I wouldn’t have thought that that was his first movie.
Christina: And then he would do like, Caught Up, where it was a little rough.
Miguel: Well, I think Caught Up mostly had to do with the material. That was the issue with Caught Up.
Christina: You can only work with what you can work with.
Miguel: ’Cause it was a horrible plot.
Christina: But he, he did a really good job in Fargo. Even though he’s playing a hitman, it’s not like a stereotypical character, like, oh, of course they have him play a hitman. Like, it’s a good role.
Miguel: It’s very cerebral with him. Like, even though he’s a hitman, he doesn’t really do any of the dirty work. He’s the mastermind behind a lot of things.
Christina: Yeah. And this is the first time we haven’t seen him bald in a while, I think?
Miguel: That’s the only time I haven’t seen him.
Christina: I think I’m remembering him wearing hats a lot, too.
Miguel: No. In Dead Presidents as well. He had a little bit of a wig. But in Fargo he has an afro wig. ’Cause it’s in like 1978 or something.
Christina: Something like that. Late seventies. Okay.
So, I love Drunk History.
Miguel: When he played George Washington.
Christina: He played George Wash–Drunk History is hilarious. If you haven’t watched it before they basically just get different actors and comedians drunk and then have them recite a historical event.
Christina: And then they have various actors come in, re-enact—
Miguel: And act out drunk versions of the historical event.
Christina: And then they’ll have people like Bokeem play George Washington.
Miguel: Yes. ’Cause that makes sense.
Christina: Yeah. And the funny thing is I often learn something from watching Drunk History. [Laughs]
Miguel: You can learn things from Drunk History. ’Cause they choose moments that aren’t well-known but they actually happened.
Christina: There’s been multiple times where I’m like, I need to look this up. This can’t be real. I mean, because the retelling are from people who are drunk, there are some, um—
Christina: Yes, and some facts that are a little loose.
Miguel: Some misremembering.
Christina: Yes. But for the most part, they’re real.
Christina: I would imagine they have them semi memorize the story beforehand.
Miguel: Yeah, as far as I’m aware, they know the story. Then they get them drunk and get them to retell the story, from memory.
Christina: And often laying on the ground or slumped over.
Miguel: I think I’m going to watch some Drunk History when we’re done with this.
Christina: Yeah. So it was a very short little bit part. Most of the skits or retellings of Drunk History is pretty short but he plays George Washington. And the story was told by a drunk Lin Manuel Miranda, ’cause of course, he would tell a story about Hamilton.
So after Fargo, he was on Underground.
Miguel: Which I really want to watch.
Christina: I do want to watch it, but, you know how it is. We’re always talking about, what do we call it?
Miguel: Recreational trauma.
Christina: Yeah. So I’ve heard good things about it.
Miguel: Yeah. I want to see it.
Christina: Eventually at some point. We watched him in Spiderman.
Miguel: Yeah. He played Shocker #2.
Christina: Shocker #2 because Shocker #1 was accidentally–oh, spoiler?
Miguel: It’s from 2017.
Christina: Spoiler. Turn it off or fast forward a couple of seconds, but yeah, they accidentally kill Shocker #1. So he becomes Shocker #2.
Miguel: Yeah. He was Shocker #2, by default.
Christina: I don’t remember him on Snowfall, now.
Miguel: It was only one episode and it was one of the early episodes. I think it was season one? And he was a friend of Jerome’s. And they went to his office, I think he owned like a pawn shop or something. And they went to talk to him about something. But that was the only episode that he was in.
Christina: And then, this is something I do want to watch eventually too, is the Unsolved, the story about the murders of Tupac and Biggie, where he plays one of the detectives. So he’s on the other side of the law. Well, once again, cause he was a cop in—
Miguel: in Southland.
Christina: Southland as well. But the ironic thing is him actually being friends with Tupac.
Miguel: And he was a cop in that other Netflix movie that we watched as well, where the girl was time traveling and they were trying to catch her.
Christina: Oh yeah, it was Mary J Blige? The movie with Mary J. Blige?
Miguel: No, it was a different one. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was the guy from Narcos and him and they were cops and the White guy’s granddaughter came back from the future to try and get him to help her with something.
Christina: Oh yeah. I don’t remember what–I know what you’re talking about, but I don’t remember the movie.
Miguel: I don’t remember the name of it, but—
Christina: And I don’t remember him either.
Miguel: Yeah, he was the guy’s partner and they were trying to chase her down and she kept eluding them. But that one was pretty entertaining to me too.
Christina: Although she could have just told him right away.
Miguel: She could have.
Christina: I’m your granddaughter.
Miguel: We could have saved an hour and a half, if she had just come out and told them instead of sneaking around and making them chase her all the time.
Christina: We’ll have to find this movie so we can post it.
Miguel: But it’s on Netflix. So do a Bokeem Woodbine search and it’ll come up. It was like two years ago, three years ago, something like that.
Christina: Yeah, so eventually I want to watch that. The funny thing about this other movie, Overlord, is when we were looking around for movies to watch with Bokeem in it, when I was watching the trailer, I was like, I don’t see him in the trailer. But, when I was just doing a general search of the movie, his named kept popping up.
Miguel: Yeah. It’s like second on the billing.
Christina: So, then I was like, whatever, let’s just watch it. So it’s basically, it’s kind of like a sci-fi/war film.
Miguel: Yeah. It’s set in World War II, but there’s a lot random science fiction shit happening.
Christina: Yeah. They’re like, zombies.
Miguel: There’s zombies and vampires happening in World War II and he’s part of it.
Christina: And they were there to fight the Nazis and then end up finding zombies instead. But, we were tricked and, I’m gonna say spoiler again, because this is a fairly new movie, I guess.
Miguel: Yeah. He dies in the first five minutes of the movie.
Christina: Yeah. So I was what the—it’s like the only reason—I do like general zombie movies anyways so.
Miguel: But we anticipated him being in the movie a little bit longer.
Christina: So we’re like, fuck it. We’ll just finish this movie anyway.
Miguel: Especially with him being like the second billing, second or third.
Christina: So that’s funny that now his name is being used to draw audiences and then they just oh, you brought us in here to see Bokeem just to get of him in five minutes. Dammit.
Miguel: Oh. Yeah. It ended up being an entertaining movie anyway.
Christina: Yeah, just sci-fi, thriller, zombies. Like, again, don’t expect too much.
Miguel: Zombies. Nazis. Vampires.
Christina: From these kinds of movies. You just want to be entertained by some gore and whatnot.
Christina: He’s also, of course not surprising, in the Wu-Tang: An American Saga, which again, we haven’t gotten around to watching yet.
Miguel: It’s on the list though.
Christina: Yeah. And then, what we did watch was Queen and Slim.
Miguel: Yes. And he’s by far the best thing about this movie.
Christina: So he plays her uncle? His uncle?
Miguel: No, he’s her Uncle Earl.
Christina: Yeah, Uncle Earl. And I’m not gon’ say too much about that movie because I think the critics are split. [Laughs]
Miguel: You don’t have to say anything, but I’m going to say it. The movie is terrible. To me, the movie is terrible.
Christina: It’s aesthetically pleasing.
Miguel: It looks good, but it’s not good. That’s just my opinion.
Christina: What I will say is, Uncle Earl—
Miguel: Yes. He’s by far the best part of this movie.
Christina: I would watch a spinoff about him.
Miguel: Yeah. If anybody needs a movie it’s Uncle Earl.
Christina: Yeah. And if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ve probably at least seen the posters and you’ve seen Daniel Kaluuya wearing, uh, a velour sweatsuit. And that is courtesy of Uncle Earl.
Miguel: Yes. Now first of all, Uncle Earl lives in New Orleans. And when we meet him after they’re knocking on the door, the first thing we see is him frying fish. And I’m like, that’s some good looking fish. I need some of this fish in my life. And yeah, they just proceed to come in and hang out with him for a little bit, since they’re on the run, they’re looking for a place to hide out. Let’s go to see Uncle Earl. And he has some of the best lines this movie. The way he said “I don’t know” when she asked if they could stay there was one of the funniest things I have even seen. [Movie clip plays]
Miguel: Just like that.
Christina: [Laughs] Yes, I can hear him saying it.
Miguel: “I don’t know.”
Miguel: So, she says “You’re just gonna let us get killed?”
And he says, [Movie clip plays].
Miguel: Later in the conversation, they, they’re going back and forth and she says that he’s jealous. And he’s like, “I ain’t jealous of nobody. Nigga’s jealous of meeee!” And I love that.
Christina: I just remember being delighted every time he showed up.
Miguel: Yeah. Just that “I don’t know.” She’s pouring her heart out, like, we’re being chased by the police, you’re not going to let us stay? What are we gonna do? “I don’t know.” I love that. It’s like, that’s not my problem. That’s yours.
Christina: He’s like, I’ll let you stay here for the night. I’ll give you some velour sweatsuits. You can take some of my girl’s clothes.
Miguel: You’re not taking my cars. And then they ended up giving a car up though.
All right. So, I’m looking at his IMDb and he’s got a couple things coming up in the next couple months. There’s a Halo TV show in development.
Christina: Is that uh, like the, is that a video game?
Miguel: Yeah. It’s based off a video game and he’s got a big role in that. He’s playing one of the characters. I’ve never played Halo, so I can’t say what it’s about. He’s also in the new Ghostbusters movie that’s coming out. I don’t recall seeing him in the trailer though.
Christina: I watched two trailers and I didn’t see him, so I don’t think his role will be too big. But I would still like to watch the movie because I loved the Ghostbusters cartoons as a kid.
Miguel: Not the movies, but the cartoon?
Christina: Yeah. I don’t, I pretty sure I had watched the first movie as a kid. I think me and you watched it not too long ago.
Miguel: Yeah, it was on maybe a month ago or something.
Christina: I was definitely into the cartoons. So, I would like to watch this movie.
Christina: Hopefully he’s in it uh, more than five minutes.
Miguel: We’ll see.
Christina: But I would like to watch the movie anyway.
Miguel: Yeah. And, he’s also in a movie with Gabrielle Union as well called The Inspection. That one is in pre-production right now, and that should be out sometime next year. And that’s pretty much all I could see that he’s working on. So it looks like it’s not those “I need to pay the bills” type movies anymore.
Christina: Well, he did mention, in one of his interviews, that he’s at a time where he could turn down stuff now.
Miguel: Yeah. So, the tide has turned a little bit.
Christina: Yup. Oh, he also was saying like, during his career slump, him and his agent counted how many no’s he got and he said it was 1300!
Miguel: That’s crazy.
Christina: I don’t know if that— he doesn’t seem like he’s someone who would embellish. So that’s crazy. Especially considering again how early on his career seemed to move pretty quick. So, I’m glad he stuck through it. I feel bad for kind of making a joke out of it, but it’s BET’s fault for playing that damn movie and over again.
Miguel: I’ll allow it because I was in the same boat. Just making fun of him for being in everything and wondering why he wasn’t in stuff that he shouldn’t have been in.
Miguel: Like, Fried Green Tomatoes 2020. How come Bokeem ain’t in that?
Christina: So, if by any chance he’s hearing this or any other Bokeem Woodbine fans who are like, really? I’m sorry. I feel bad. I take it all back and just reviewing his whole career, he’s always shown range. So, sometimes there was stuff that was not the best, but we all got bills to pay. We all have that job that we had to go to.
Christina: Just some of us don’t have to do it on TV.
Christina: So, like I said, he’s shown range. And he’s going through his comeback and hopefully he stays this time.
Miguel: Yes. All right. With that said, do you have anything else you would like to add, any suggestions—
Christina: I would–
Miguel: —for the people to watch?
Christina: I would just suggest actually listening to the Jemelle Hill podcast and The Breakfast Club interviews, since I pulled from it so much, and it would be better to hear it from him. But also just the other stories he was telling as, you know, a fan of hip hop, in the early 90’s, because he was so entrenched with a lot of these 90’s rappers. He lot of just sort of general interesting stories of just being around at that time. And also I like listening to him talk. He’s just someone that’s like, nice to listen to. And he also has some funny stories about being mistaken for Dave Chappelle.
Miguel: Yeah. Exactly.
I would suggest watching Fargo because that is different than any other things that he’s done throughout his career. So yeah. Fargo would be my suggestion.
Christina: And his parts in Queen and Slim.
Miguel: And “I don’t know.” “I ain’t jealous of nobody. Niggas jealous of meee!”
Christina: Is his accents getting better?
Miguel: It’s not a New Orleans accent, but it’s not as bad as when he was trying to do the Houston accent, if that makes sense. It’s not a bad accent that you say, ugh, what is he trying to do here? It just doesn’t sound like he’s from New Orleans.
Christina: Yeah. That’s cause you know what someone from New Orleans is supposed to like.
Miguel: But if you don’t know what people from New Orleans sound like, then you can get away with it.
Christina: Yeah. Okay.
Miguel: That’s all I have.
Miguel: So, on that note, we are going to end this episode. Make sure to rate and follow on your podcast service of choice. Make sure you follow us on social media @troypodcast on Instagram and Twitter. Always active. Come holler at us.
If you would like to hear a playlist, based on the movies that Bokeem has been in, check out the name of this episode. You can search it on Spotify. Or you can just search "TROY podcast" to see all of our playlists on there.
Also, we will be taking a small break just to take care of some admin stuff here. So, it’ll be about three to four weeks rather than our usual two week gap. So, take this time to go back, listen to some of our older episodes, get your friends to listen to some of our older episodes, share it all over the place.
Christina: And we will be releasing some companion stuff though.
Miguel: So, we’ll be working on finishing up the website stuff that we’ve been talking about for the past month or so. Actually probably longer at this point. Check that out at troypodcast.com. We will have transcripts of the episodes and all sorts of other good things to play with there as well.
Christina: Basically, a wiki.
Miguel: Yeah. So a lot of the things that we mention on the show, we’re going to list on the website so you can go refer to it there.
Christina: Also, the week that this episode will be going up is my birthday week. So taking a little birthday break too.
Christina: We don’t have a Patreon. [Laughs]
Miguel: Not yet. But yeah, go ahead and her something for her birthday by reviewing the podcast. That’s simple and easy.
Christina: Or just five stars. You don’t even have to write anything.
Miguel: Five stars. You don’t have to write anything. It’s free. So, yeah. You got anything else you want to mention before we get out of here?
Christina: Don’t sleep on Bokeem like I did.
Miguel: Yes. Check out some Bokeem Woodbine. We’ll be back with you in a few weeks. In the meantime, check out some of that old shit. Until then. Bye.