Jovan Adepo couldn't hide his nervousness when he began work on Fences.
Not only was this the British actor's his big screen debut, but he co-stars in the movie adaptation of August Wilson's play about a black working class family in 1950s Pittsburgh as Denzel Washington and Viola Davis' son.
Washington also directed the movie. "One the first day of actually filming, Denzel could definitely tell I was nervous," says Adepo, who fans of The Leftovers know for his work as Michael Murphy on the HBO series. "I was very fortunate because he pulled me aside, even before I stepped in front of the camera, to say, 'I cast you for a reason. I feel that my vision for the film and for the direction I want to go, you were the best for job. So rest easy...I just want you to be mindful that you are enough.'"
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It's not like Adepo ever fully got used to working with the two-time Oscar winner. "I would have to watch myself because sometimes I would be staring because...that's my hero!" he admitted. "I practiced all of his great scenes and monologues in front of a mirror. So I gave myself a few minutes to do that in a little corner—just be a fan—and then once it was time for picture up, I let all of that go."
And what happens on screen is acting at its best. Washington plays a city sanitation worker who insists his son learn a trade after high school graduation rather than pursue his dreams of playing college football. Davis is Washington's wife of 18 years who keeps herself and the house in order until one day she snaps with a gut-wrenching monologue about sacrifice that will tear your heart out (and earn Davis an Oscar).
Adepo holds his own as he goes head-to-head with Washington in scenes that were sometimes physical. Just imagine being Adepo and having to violently push Washington to the ground.
"These people are larger than life because of the their talents and the characters that they play, but they're also just the warmest people that I've come to know," Adepo said. "I always felt that when I saw Denzel or Viola do scenes in their past films or past projects that if it's a heavy scene and it's requiring a lot of emotional weight that we would have nothing but silence and incense burning in between takes just to keep things quite."
However, Fences was anything but a quiet set. "There were jokes," Adepo said. "Denzel would be singing in between takes and there was a strong sense of fellowship between every actor on set and the crew as well."
And then he added, "I've been spoiled."
Fences is in theaters on Sunday, Dec. 25.