Blair Underwood played Keith Weston in the 1996 cult classic film Set It Off, however, the actor originally turned down the role.
The 55-year-old actor, who is currently starring in A Soldier’s Play on Broadway, sat down with Sirius XM’s The Clay Cane Show and explained how he was offered the role and initially turned it down.
“I read the script and at the time I was playing Jackie Robinson in an HBO film, again a very historical and noble project, and I read the first 18 pages and I got to the scene where Jada [Pinkett-Smith] slept with this guy to make money to send her brother to college, and I said, ‘I don’t wanna do that,’ and I passed,” he said. “A week or two later they came back and were like, ‘Why did you pass?’ And my manager read me the riot act when I told her, I said, ‘Well I didn’t actually finish reading the script.’ She said, ‘Boy you better finish reading the script before you be passing on things.’ So I did, and I saw the love story between the character Keith and Jada’s character. I also saw the platonic love story between these four women and how beautiful that was and that was a lesson I never forgot.”
He continued: “I’ll never pass on anything, and have not since then, before reading it and know what you’re talking about. In context that scene with Jada made sense, which she made a choice to send her brother to college so he’d have a better life.”
Underwood also said Hollywood was weary about creating the film but embraced it later once it found out it was profitable.
“I also remember there was pushback at the time in Hollywood because Boyz 'n the Hood had come out and Menace II Society and there were voices that didn’t want to see us only as gangster films and people would dismiss us,” he said. “And then when we were shooting the film, [and were like] OK, now we’re going to do Girlz 'n the Hood, we got Boyz 'n the Hood, now it’s Girlz 'n the Hood, that’s all Hollywood wants to do, and I just fell in the hands of F. Gary Gray as a director – the vision he had - and saw what these sisters were doing.”
Listen to a segment of Blair Underwood’s interview with The Clay Cane Show below.
See a clip of Underwood in Set It Off below.