When I’d heard there was a film about the D.C. snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo being made, I was skeptical. As a senior in high school living in Manassas, Virginia and frequenting the gas station where one of the snipers’ victims was killed, I was not anxious to relive the terror I’d felt back in 2002 when my friends and I ran in zigzag patterns to our cars after school.
But while the fear I felt as a kid did return as I watched Blue Caprice, I was relieved to find out that it wasn’t disrespected or abused by the film; it was simply explained. The film focuses less on what this makeshift father-son duo did and more on who they were and why they chose to kill. It’s a sad story of two sick individuals looking for love and belonging that doesn’t excuse them, but allows us to see and better understand the impact fatherlessness can have.
EBONY.com caught up with Isaiah Washington, the star and executive producer of Blue Caprice, to talk about the messages in this film and what he’ll never do again as a father.
EBONY: Being a bit out of favor in real life a few years ago, why take on the role of this serious villain, this public enemy number one?
Isaiah Washington: It was a calculated guess, a calculated decision on my part. Once I realized that this was not a sensationalized story about a public enemy number one, like Jesse James, and making it cool, I just trusted [director] Alexandre Moors, knowing his work, that he could handle it. I said, “if we get it wrong, I’ve got nothing to lose. I’ll be that crazy guy,” blah, blah, blah. But what I know in my heart and what I think I know about Hollywood and the public at large and morbid curiosity, I thought maybe we can educate the world [with this film] and start a real conversation about our culture of violence and humanity.
EBONY: You’ve that you were afraid of playing this character, and Moors had to snap you out of it. How were you able to get into the mind of this man who blamed everyone around him for his situation and became a killer? Was there anything you connected with on a person level?
IW: That’s a fair question, but I think it’s an obvious one. No. I wanted to do Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy. [Laughs] I wanted to show the world I could be a hero. So that was my wrestle with myself. But ultimately, I gave in to the very vision that I had agreed to. But when you talk about [the vision with the director], it’s all academic. When you have a fellow actor who you like and respect and you have to tie him to a tree and be beyond mean and straight out cruel, I was like, this is no longer academic.
‘Blue Caprice’ trailer
‘Blue Caprice’ trailer
So to be this guy, you have to feel these things. That was the most emotional thing for me, trying to keep Isaiah out of the way. Because I am very protective by nature. I’m a father. That’s what gets me in trouble, trying to protect everybody. I’m a full-on Leo. But I agreed to do it, and I’m executive producer on it, so you’ve got to get it done.
EBONY: Many actors talk about the psychological issues they had portraying really heinous characters. What kept you sane during this process?
IW: I had to sit on the couch afterwards. I’ve had my psyche harmed. And I’ve been vilified before. So all of those feelings don’t just go away, that trauma doesn’t go away. But I had to deal with that trauma and put that aside because there is a message that’s important for humanity. My feelings on African-Americans and how we only come to the forefront unless it’s about abuse or being disempowered, I had to get past all of that in my mind and be a servant to this cause.
EBONY: Coming off a project like this, where you’ve said Moors gave you an opportunity to return to the kind of complex, multi-faceted characters characters you were playing at the beginning of your career, what are you doing next?
IW: The next movie I’m producing with Patrik-Ian Polk, called Blackbird. And then after that, I’m going to bring you a documentary directed by Peres Owino [African vs. African American: Silent Sibling Rivalry]. She’s a beast. I’m participating in that project on the taboo conversations that should be happening but are not happening between Africans and African-Americans. So that documentary is going straight to Sundance.
Another project I’m producing with Marc Lamont Hill called For Colored Boys with some serious players, talking about the syndrome of prison and what it’s like for these boys when they try to