During the inspection, Gabrielle Union steps out of her comfort zone [Exclusive Interview]

During the inspection, Gabrielle Union steps out of her comfort zone [Exclusive Interview]


“The Inspection” is an intense and thoughtful film about a young gay black man named Ellis French (Jeremy Pope) who decides to join the military in the early 2000s. He does so in part to escape his current life of homelessness. shelter, but also to try to win back the love of his mother, interpreted by Gabrielle Union. You can read Chris Evangelista’s official /Film review of the film here.

From a screen perspective, Gabrielle Union isn’t in the movie that much, but it certainly feels like she is. French’s relationship with his character is the emotional core of the film, the thing that everything seems to revolve around. Here, Union plays a woman fundamentally different from herself; she plays a woman who repeatedly refuses her son because of his sexuality.

It was a difficult role, made even more difficult by the fact that she was playing a character based on director Elegance Bratton’s real mother, who died very early in the film’s production. (You can find my interview with Bratton here.) I was fortunate enough to be able to speak to Union about her experience with this memorable role and the challenges that came with it.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.

“I wanted different for French”


There are a lot of emotional scenes in the movie for you. What has been the most difficult for you, or perhaps the most rewarding?

The hardest part is the last scene of the film. get away from him [French] and wanting…I’m like, “Are there any new pages? Can’t I be a demon this whole movie?” Yeah, you want different. I wanted different for French. I wanted different for Elegance in real life. I want different for my own children. It was very difficult, to say the least. Dark and difficult. Yeah, it just sucks. It just sucks.

But the most rewarding? Probably the very first scene. They were a little nervous about me taking the wig off, but I was like, “She’s home alone. I’m going to give you those wig braids. You’re going to have a go. I promise.” will be much more authentic.” But it was gratifying to have never seen this space, but immediately it felt familiar to me, and to be comfortable in the space and to move around with my little cigarette and everything I wanted to do.

When you rehearse, even alone in the mirror, you have all the things then the day you usually use one. And I was able to do whatever I wanted to do because nothing else scared me. I just wanted Jeremy to be uncomfortable in that space and wanted to bask in my hoarding, and I was able to do whatever I wanted to do in that scene. So it was very rewarding. You don’t see everything on the screen, but I know what I did, so it was good that day.

When I walked in, I didn’t know anything about real life, and I remember thinking that in the end, maybe these two could pull it off. Probably not soon, but I remember thinking there was something there. Was that an intentional thing in your performance? Did you have hope for your character?

I think because I know how it ends in real life, I probably got less, but it was interesting to see people’s reaction while they watched it. So Toronto was my first time watching it with a large audience and I look around…but they have so much hope, and that’s a theme that comes up time and time again.

So I’m glad it gives hope, because I think there are a lot of parents who are going to see themselves in a way that they don’t think they actually look like in real life. And so I need them to have hope that they can do things differently and be better. But unfortunately in real life, less hope. But I love that he found it in himself. Everything he wanted from her, he gave himself, which for a lot of people… I keep saying kids, but I mean little guys to… I met queer kids in their 90s who still want that from their parents who are gone. I don’t think you stop wanting that love and acceptance and just the love and recognition from your parents, especially your mother.

“Maybe a parent will see this and change course”


In another interview about this movie, you said something that stuck with me, how a while ago you were talking to actress Sanaa Lathan about the roles you play, and she said, “If it doesn’t Don’t scare me, it’s not worth doing.Was it something you took with you specifically into this film? [Gabrielle nods.] What scared you the most?

Playing someone who has such opposing points of view and who has gone through the world so differently. And the people I tend to openly and hostilely criticize for holding those opinions and treating their children that way. I didn’t want to find a way in. I didn’t want to find anything in common with this person.

The very idea of ​​someone offering it to me frightened me. You know what I mean? I usually say, “Hey, that feels good. I know, I get it. I know who that person is, it’s me, blah, blah, blah,” and I seek comfort. I had sought, should I say, comfort in a role, like ease. “How hard will I have a job? Oh good, easy. Sign me up. How much? Great, even better.” But with that, all I needed to get over the fear was maybe a parent will see this and change course and not do this to their child. And that was all I had to overcome my fear.

But it’s still weird to see me behave like this on screen. I mean, my life’s work is to protect people from people like that, and to play one and be recognized for my work, it’s weird. It’s a mixed bag, I don’t know how to feel exactly. I guess I did my job. It’s a weird exchange, I think.

“He didn’t want to change anything”


So I understand that Elegance Bratton’s mother passed away shortly after the project was green lit. Were you involved with the project before, and if so, how did this news affect the way you approached the project?

Well, as a producer, you have to wonder if he still wants to do that at all? You know what I mean? It’s one thing if your mother is alive and you’re like, “I want to show you how far I’ve come, I want to show you how brilliant I am, and I want this opportunity for us to fix our relationship, for you to show up for that premiere.” You want that. But if she’s not with us anymore, does he even want to do this project? Is he comfortable doing it the way he is written, like with what we’ve all kind of signed? Grief tends to soften some edges or make the edges much sharper than they actually were. And with grief, children, even are your children the most reliable narrator?

But he insisted and he did all the emotional work necessary to grieve and process as best he could, and he didn’t want to change a thing. And so out of respect for Elegance and its history and their history, we were like, “Okay, let’s make this movie and find out how to make it as brilliantly as you wrote it.” But you don’t want to push, you don’t want to be pushy, you don’t want to rush anyone because of a parent’s loss.

Even as we were shooting, it was very emotional. It was very, very moving. And there are times when I’m just a mother and I’m like, “Wait, 20 seconds down. Wait. I have to take care of the kids who are still processing everything.” It doesn’t matter if you’re 90 or a toddler, the death of a parent is the syrup that covers everything. And to not always leave that space, you’re an asshole. And so you had to figure out how to be a great actor who can pull that off, every part of the cover in one or two takes. Because we just don’t have the time or the money to bask in just one thing, one show. And we didn’t exactly have time to be as nurturing as we wanted, but we had to make time, because it was emotional and it turned out to be very emotional for a lot of people beyond Elegance . And you have to be a decent human being and figure out how to keep room for everyone as we all work on all of our stuff together as a team.

Yeah, when I was talking to Jeremy Pope, he said backstage that it was about healing for Elegance and for him. So, how about your experience with Jeremy and Elegance behind the camera?

Sometimes I feel like they’re my babies, and I just want to protect them from everything, certainly from Hollywood and the machine. They are pure souls. They are so pure, and I want it to stay that way. And I want them to love this industry and love what they do and not be broke, not have their souls tainted by black shit.

“Let me hold it.” That’s the point. “Let me hold it all, so you can find out the good stuff.” But I love them and I just want to protect them and try to make it as great an experience as possible. Because when you see the other side, you know what’s behind every corner and just try to put a protective shield around them. But I love them as if they were mine.

“The Inspection” is available now in select theaters worldwide on December 2, 2022.

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