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But it wasn’t the gray trip in bitter nor’easter weather that snapped Williams into character as Freddy, a powerful prisoner who takes a young inmate (played by Riz Ahmed) under his wing.It was the fact that Williams had driven this heart-wrenching route many times before, on his way to Green Haven Correctional Facility—the maximum-security prison farther north.The actor would exit his character’s cement cell block and walk free—something his nephew has not done for nearly two decades.“I’ve long made peace with who my nephew is,” Williams says.
Though agonizing, those memories are filled with textures he summons to elevate his characters beyond what is written, making ’s Chalky White beloved and memorable years after their final scenes.
You’re sitting and waiting to see your lawyer, waiting to see the judge, waiting to be arraigned, waiting to get sentenced, waiting to see the parole board. The question becomes, what do you do with that time.”Williams has built a career finding unexpected nuance in tough-guy roles. I go to the hood in Kalecha, and they walk up and stop me and say, ‘Are you really here?
But growing up in Brooklyn, Williams was actually ridiculed for his inability to summon the machismo he would later channel effortlessly onscreen.“From some of the characters I play now, you’d probably think I was about I like musicals.”In that case, it makes sense that Williams’s artistic awakening came courtesy of Janet Jackson. If he lived in our world he would probably hang out with Jay Z and Beyoncé.”“With the timing—I don't believe in mistakes,” Williams continues. '”The experience reminds Williams of the way he connected to the characters in those classic, gritty 90s films. Hopefully what Pac did for me, I get to do for somebody.”Next month, Williams returns to the states for the Emmys.
That’s where the actor’s nephew, Dominic Dupont, is currently incarcerated, nearly 20 years after his conviction for murder.“It was surreal,” Williams tells of the eerily evocative journey.
And each day of filming concluded with another emotional trigger.