Interview: Don Cheadle and Wesley Snipes

Interview: Don Cheadle and Wesley Snipes

Published March 2, 2010

Director Antoine Fuqua’s highly anticipated film, “Brooklyn’s Finest,” tells the tales of three unconnected Brooklyn cops struggling with the rules of the force and defining who they are on and off duty. The cops collide at the end of the movie after a series of events that take place over the course of a week, which lead to a tragic end.


Don Cheadle plays Tango, an undercover cop assigned to set up a drug kingpin named Caz (Wesley Snipes) who ended up saving his life in prison. Eventually, Tango will have to choose between his loyalty to the force and his unlikely friendship with Caz, an aging dealer who wants out of the game. caught up with both actors to get a glimpse of how they prepared for their roles and why Antoine Fuqua is on his way to becoming one of the best directors of all time.


Don, you’re from the Midwest so how did you get in a New York state of mind to prep for your character?

Don Cheadle: I just tried to be in the environment and listen to cats with good insight, and tried to have them tell me my lane. It’s up to the people whether I achieved it or not but I really liked the character on the page.


Tango was a complex character, so what emotional place did playing him take you to and was it hard to turn it off?

DC: It’s the job. We get used to taking our character and turning it on and off and doing what you have to do, but it was really laid out well in the script—who this guy was and being able to rely on our director to keep us mindful of the story we’re telling and keep us mindful of the journey. The rest of it is just what we do.

Wesley, how did you get in the mind frame for Caz and did you channel Nino Brown?

Wesley Snipes: [Laughs] No. My approach to this was never to do another Nino. But I wanted to do something to really show that the world where you live as a dealer is a dead-end world. So I wanted to do something on a more elevated level to show that you can be rehabilitated and seek a better life.

What was you guys’ favorite thing about working with each other?

DC: I thought it was a great experience. Antoine [Fuqua] really set the table for us with the area that we were in and the script that Michael Martin wrote.  We just really had fun and he created a great space for us.

WS: It was beautiful, and to work with a consummate artist, who cares about the quality of the work, appreciates what we do as actors and the contribution we can make taking the script as a skeleton and fleshing it out -- adding some flavor and swagger to it and also bringing Hollywood to Brooklyn.

You guys worked with some younger guys like Michael Williams, who played “Omar” on “The Wire.” What was your favorite or least favorite thing about working with up-and-coming talent?

DC: I always like working with younger dudes. Those guys may be up and coming but they’ve been working for a long time in the business and they’re professionals. They’re all about the work just like we are, so it’s great to get into those situations with them and really define these scenes and define how these guys are acting.

WS: They come hungry too. They’re like, “We respect you man, but really I’m trying to take your spot.” [Laughs] There were a couple of times on set where I would see them look at me and watching how I do something—watching everything [Laughs].  

This film has been getting a lot of comparisons to “The Departed.” Do you think this might be the movie to get Antoine Fuqua to the level of respect of a director like Martin Scorsese?

WS: He’s well on his way, given the time and opportunity, because he’s got access to the talent.  

DC: Wow. I think with Antoine has proven that he is a professional and very good at his job and has a firm grip on this genre.




"Brooklyn's Finest" is in theaters this Friday.

Written by Starrene Rhett


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