The shootings of unarmed citizens at the hands of police officers has been a very hotly contested topic of debate for at least five years. There have also been quite a few cinematic offerings looking to shed varying degrees of light at the many angles that comprise this American tragedy.
With River Runs Red, we find actors Taye Diggs, George Lopez and John Cusack acting out a scenario that many have likely lamented, but none have attempted; to exact revenge on officers accused of shooting unarmed citizens in the line of duty.
Taye Diggs plays a judge who believed in the system his entire life before circumstances snatched the thing he held most dear. Unable to find legal justice, Diggs seeks out others who have suffered similar circumstances. Lopez plays Javier, a father who has also lost his child in a suspicious police shooting and has tried to move on with his life.
“I read the script and was like, wow! It’s not a comedy, it’s was very dramatic. This is something that’s definitely very different for me,” Lopez told The Shadow League.
“The thing that finally sold it to me was that Wes Miller attached a private note to me on the script talking about his passion for River Runs Red and how it relates to everything that’s going on today, how unfortunate it is that these things happen almost daily, and his overall passion for this project and the will to get it done.
The script by itself is great and it drew a lot of great actors to this film, but I think Wes’ commitment to personally reach out to the actors was the thing that sold me on it.”
TSL: What was it like working with Taye Diggs?
George Lopez: I knew Taye a little bit beforehand. So, I was looking forward to working with him. He’s a great partner to be with in the film. He’s such a professional. This film actually started my run of dramatic films. River Run Red was the first one a year ago, and I did four in a year.
All four of those movies were very different and all dramatic. Wes reaching out to me has started this thing where it’s almost like a shift in my career. I never really did a lot of comedies. I did a few comedies and some animated pictures, but the slapstick type of comedy never really was my thing. I was more drawn to dramatic works.
TSL: I’ve interviewed many comedians over the years, and each believes comedy prepared them to play dramatic roles well.
GL: I do believe that everything that happens to you in your life is either currency or experience, so I agree in that regard. Even on my sitcom, we had great comedy but we also had some very serious, dramatic moments that you wouldn’t necessarily see on a sitcom. It played real.
So, when you look at Jackie Gleason, Billy Crystal, Michael Keaton, and even Robin Williams, they all had backgrounds in stand up comedy and that help them have outstanding careers as dramatic actors.
TSL: What do you hope people will get from this film?
GL: There are so many movies out there, and so much information available on a minute by minute basis, I don’t think it’ll have the impact like when Jaws came out and nobody wanted to go near the water.
But this movie does speak to the fact that everybody’s in it. You don’t want the police officer to be affected and you don’t want people dying because of mistaken identity or just going into someone’s backyard firing.
I’m not sure what led to this culture of violence that we live in. But I will say there’s definitely a place for a movie like River Runs Red, just for the fact that it’s a powerful film and a good movie. And there’s always a place for a good movie.
TSL: What is something personal that connects you to this film?
GL: I had a friend of mine who was murdered by the police when he was 20. I’m 57-years-old. I don’t think that I’m over that. It destroyed our relationship with his family. They didn’t want to see us because we reminded them of losing their child.
So, yeah, it’s gone on a long time. I don’t think (this movie) is an answer, and I don’t think that violence is the answer, this movie does not endorse vigilantism nor does it endorse violence, but it is a movie I think people should see.
TSL: Tell me about your character, as well as what connects you to him?
GL: In a way, it’s almost how my friend’s parents dealt with losing their son. They just kind of tried to move past it by not talking about it. I think, even to this day, my friend didn’t get a headstone because they can’t bring themselves to put a headstone in because of the finality of it.
With my character, we know it happened but he’s trying to move on. But during a conversation with his wife, he says; ‘We try to move on but like a ghost, it’s always there, it’s always going to be around. And whenever we’re having a good time, that ghost will come around, and when we’re not in a good place, it’ll come around. As tragic as losing a child can be, it’s not something that you can just look past.
I have friends who have had to sit down and have conversations with their children, but I think it’s just an eye-opening film. Seeing it, it’s so powerful, it’ll make you cry. But sometimes it’s important for something to elicit emotions like that.
River Runs Red stars Taye Diggs, George Lopez, John Cusack, and Luke Hemsworth, and is directed by Wes Miller. It arrives on DVD/Blue-Ray December 10.