“I’m not going to lie,” Laz Alonso acknowledges: His initial reaction to getting cast in “Detroit” was excitement over the chance to work with Oscar-winning “The Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow.
But as the actor delved into the movie’s powerful and painful story set against the civil unrest in Detroit in 1967 — and the brutality inflicted against African-American men by police and the National Guard — Alonso came to a more profound realization.
“This story needs to be told,” he tells Made in Hollywood reporter Patrick Stinson. “I had no idea that this happened. … It just elevated the importance of why we do what we do, why we love what we do. Through telling our stories, through dialogue, it continues to humanize something that can be very dehumanizing.”
Co-star Tyler James Williams felt humbled by the opportunity to take part in the project.
“There was this sense that that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tell this story,” he says. “I’d never felt such a sense of awareness, of understanding and embarrassment … Letting these people’s voices go unheard for 50 years was really embarrassing. This affected my life in so many different ways.”
For Anthony Mackie “Detroit” fed into his deep love of the country’s history and all its contradictions.
“The 1960s I feel was like when America went from being a teenager to a young adult,” he says. “And of all of the horrific things that happened, some of the most amazing art and music and people came out of that decade.”