Crown Heights didn't have a big budget so aging the cast about two decades wouldn't be easy.
Or maybe it was.
The independent film follows the true story of Colin Warner (Atlanta's Lakeith Stanfield), a young man from Trinidad who spent 20 years in prison for a 1980 murder in Brooklyn that he didn't commit. Former NFL star Nnamdi Asomugha plays Carl King, Colin's best friend who dedicated his life to proving his innocence.
You can't help but notice the eyeglasses that Asomugha wears throughout the movie.
Sonia Recchia/Getty Images
"Those were everything," Asomugha, 35, told me at the Sundance Film Festival. "Everybody keeps talking about the glasses, and it was important. And I think that's the way. It's such a small film, low-budget film, and you have to age 20 years and you don't always have the resources to do that, so the glasses for my character were important in showing the age and the time difference."
He also used Carl's Trinidadian accent.
"It wasn't that hard, but it was a lot of work," Asomugha said. "It was part of the job, and it was important for us to have accents in it. It's an immigrant story, it's an American story. Without that, we would've lost something. But we worked for about four or five weeks just trying to get it down."
The film's director Matt Ruskin also made sure his cast spent time with the real people of the story. "I sat down with Colin for one day and then spent two weeks basically with Carl, just so that I could get into his psyche and get into the role a little bit," Asomugha said.
The night after we met, Crown Heights had its festival premiere. By Asomugha's side was his wife Kerry Washington, but the Scandal star kept a low profile, declining interviews on the carpet to keep the spotlight on her husband.
They celebrated after the screening at the Crown Heights party at The Vulture Sundance Spot at Rock & Riley's.