“Thanks to Emancipation I understood the suffering that brings us to meet God”

From Los Angeles

Emancipation, the film available on Apple TV+ starring Will Smith (excluded from yesterday’s Golden Globes nominations) seems like the right project to make him atone for the unacceptable behavior he held at the Oscar ceremony when, after an unfortunate joke against his wife, the actor slapped colleague Chris Rock. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film forces him to terrible ordeals. Peter, the protagonist, is a man beaten by other men. Not a slap but dozens and dozens of lashes and other terrible trials. But atonement has nothing to do with it. The film had been shot before that sad episode of worldwide bullying. Retribution may come with Oscar nominations. In fact, despite the remarkable performance as an actor, the Academy, which banned him from being able to attend the ceremony for the next ten years, will hardly grant Smith a nomination.

At the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles the actor decided to be interviewed. No mention of those facts but an explanation of his participation in the project, which tells of a man who manages to escape from the plantation where he risked being killed several times: «During my entire career I never wanted to show us blacks as slaves . But I decided to make this film because it doesn’t tell about slavery but about the conquest of freedom. It’s a film about a man’s heart and his faith.’

A film that takes inspiration from a very important and very popular photo, entitled “Whipped Peter”, which shows a man’s back marked by dozens of lashes. What does that image mean to you?

«I’ve known her for some time but before shooting this film I didn’t perceive her deep meaning. Now I know that each of those scars has a meaning. It’s not about a man who’s been beaten once, that’s a lifetime of abuse. In his memoirs we read of a time when he was beaten into a coma, just during that moment of unconsciousness, he tells of having met God. If faith is blind faith in trying to resist, revelation happens when you finally see the your God, after praying it all my life. Peter had entered a completely new state of mind, the same one I dream of reaching too».

Is Peter a symbol?

“He is a spiritual warrior who has learned, in the face of all difficulties, never to doubt God and never to lose the saving power of faith”.

In «Emancipation» we see her fighting and suffering in the mud, fighting with alligators, running away from slavers.

“I thought I was much more prepared than I actually was. Acting that level of human atrocity, that kind of verbal and physical abuse, being called racist hundreds of times a day by very good actors in their role, was very difficult. Then there was the climate factor, I found myself up to my neck in mud with the rain that wouldn’t stop falling and in other extreme situations, while I brought a man who was being bullied on stage».

A suffering that the viewer perceives.

“I really hope so. It wasn’t just hard for me but for the whole team. On the set we had priests, a group of therapists and spiritual consultants to help people who struggled the most to overcome those atmospheres ».

You have admirers all over the world who have been eagerly awaiting your return, can you explain why you wanted to do it with this project?

“I wanted to create a story that was a reminder of the tragic consequences that can result from violence and cruelty among human beings.”

“Thanks to Emancipation I understood the suffering that brings us to meet God”