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Gabrielle Union’s five favorite films

Gabrielle Union, after like us in films for decades Bring it on, Bad Boys IIand think like a man Stepping into the producer’s chair again this year, she’s been showered with plaudits for her most critically acclaimed performance to date. Union’s new film boasts a full and varied filmography The inspection, a debut work from writer-director Elegance Bratton, is an incredible highlight that has already had Oscar connoisseurs raving. The story of a young army recruit who leaves for army boot camp to escape life on the streets after his mother rejects him for his sexuality. Ellis, played by Jeremy Pope, embodies the director in the semi-autobiographical role, and Union plays his dominating and sometimes cruel mother figure. Throughout the film we follow his journey from homeless recruit to Marine. With literally nowhere to go, Ellis spends most of the feature film fighting the ever-present danger of his predicament at the climax of Don’t Don’t Tell. Despite his trials before and during his time in the army, our leader Inez (Pope) still desperately longed for family reconciliation and acceptance.

In a brutally opposing role that draws on the other complex and traumatic parent-child dynamics we’ve seen on screen, Union takes that work even further with minimal screen time. Critics and festival audiences seem to agree with an 86% Certified Fresh rating on the Tomatometer and stellar reviews, particularly for the work of Pope and Union. Justin Chang from the LA times called Union’s turn”, [a] a revealing performance that distils the bitter disappointment of half a lifetime into some extraordinarily chilling scenes.

A film with many variables, shot with little time and resources. As a producer and star, Union struggled with COVID restrictions and tight schedules, yet flawlessly delivered the powerful narrative. As a producer and actress, Union has always had a passion for storytelling, which is reflected in her eclectic taste in film. Here are some of her all-time favorite films with honorable mentions.








Jacqueline Coley for Rotten Tomatoes: Talk about your job in front of and behind the camera as a star and producer.

Gabrielle Union: My first job as a producer was to slip into Jeremy’s DMs. After we sent him the script and they said, “It seems like he’s interested,” I said, “Well, let me do what I do.” And I slipped into his DMs, like a good producer does, and I said, ‘Yo, if you’re really serious, if you’re there, I’m in and let’s do some magic together. Honestly, our hardest part happened after, during, and after. But yes, we all have our first choice, which never had. That has never happened to me. If we could move to the side, ’cause I don’t want to lose her in this parking garage. We’re sorry. Which has never happened to me in my entire career. We’ve never gotten to it, you make your list of everyone you want and then you’re like, ‘Oh, okay, those first eight people fit.’ And then you’re now like, ‘Well, like that, maybe. “We have every top person we wanted for this film, which is wild. I think some of the harder parts were Elegance losing its mother so quickly after we got the green light. And the sadness of losing her was palpable, so as a human you want to be there for this boy who just wants his mother, you know what I mean? And wants his mother’s love, affection and approval, and for this boy to be elegance and then have to figure out how to be respectful and still get this film done and stay true to the story. So that was more of a challenge. And then we had big COVID fights when we started. So it just became a schedule fight because we’ve almost gotten all the way through, and it’s Jackson, Mississippi, and the COVID rates. You work in one of the poorest states in the Union, and we don’t take any precautions. Outside of our production, nobody really followed it. There’s a whole ass pandemic going on. That became our biggest challenge and we had to close for months. And then trying to get everyone back together to achieve the goal was a big challenge.

RT: It’s a challenge for anyone, but as a mother, especially a mother who lives her life in such stark contrast to your character on screen, how difficult was it to reconcile that with your reality at home?

Union: It’s just dark. It’s incredibly – incredibly dark because we’re dealing with it as a family. I wish the recent public spectacle wasn’t a public spectacle. Nonetheless, people now know what the heck we were dealing with and why it was so important for me to channel the darkest corners of my mind and soul to accurately and fully portray that type of mother and not to the light side Looking for. Because there aren’t many bright sides. You try to be fair to your characters and not judge them, but the reality is that there’s a depth of darkness I’ve never had to mine before. Mining has never interested me. I didn’t think anyone would be interested in seeing me mine. Because I didn’t know what was going to happen. Not to say I made fun of actors who said, “I just had trouble shaking it.” but I said, “Well, ‘cut’, when they yell ‘cut’, you shake it, correct?” And then it was me and they screamed “cut” and for weeks and months – it’s me Not OK. Not okay at all. And all I knew was I said, “Please find me a comedy!”

In 2022 I only want to do comedy after that. Because it just took me to a place I never wanted to go back to, and certainly not anytime soon. And it was the appeal of these kinds of films to think that it’s going to lead to the kind of reaction that we’ve gotten — which means critical reaction. still you [just] You want a human reaction, a normal audience reaction, and you hope people will see that maybe they’re the villain in someone’s story — and take stock. But yeah, it was just very, very damn dark.

RT: Your co-star Jeremy Pope is amazing. Especially in one of the most important scenes of the film. How did you approach that day at the table because it’s late in the story and it’s so complicated how the movie ends up. It’s all there, and if it doesn’t hit? This is the movie. Guide us through your work on this day.

Union: Well, that day we shot all day. We were very short on time, so we shot the graduation, graduation reception and hallway scene in one day. And we raced against the light. So we didn’t have the luxury of time. Pretty much all you saw was a take or two. It was Jeremy and I who literally stayed. If we hadn’t held hands or physically snuggled together, we wouldn’t have been able to deliver in the way we needed to. Because there’s all of us as people, there’s Jeremy and Gab and then there’s Elegance and Chester. And then we all had similar experiences. And obviously that part was true for Elegance. Wasn’t much beautification in that particular scene. And we all have to turn everything off to get it right quickly because we’re losing light and we still have to shoot the hallway scene.

And that was a big Here’s what’s happening at our table, and then there’s the whole crowd’s reaction to it. The rest of the marines and background are all there. So getting it and getting it right quickly was a challenge. And then just staying in there all day because we just didn’t have the time to do much else.

In other productions you hear people say, “You shoot that and that would be your whole day.” We just didn’t have that luxury. So we literally stuck to each other. If you see us on the press tour and we’re still literally holding on to each other, we’re holding on to each other for a thousand different personal reasons, Gabrielle and Jeremy, but where are these characters taking us to this day, and whether asked or not. Because it’s personal. What it took to get us there is so personal and so dark. They are the darkest parts of our souls and some of our darkest experiences in life.

But we just had to do it right, stay in and not out. Stay in, stay in, stay in. Because we didn’t have a rehearsal – you just have to be. And I don’t know what you call it; I don’t want to take anything away from our performance but there was something bigger at play that used us that came out in that moment that I hadn’t been practicing at home in the mirror but whatever in my soul knew it had to come out at that moment. Well, as I watched, I was blown away to be honest. Because it’s like, “It lives inside me somewhere, and I need to find out.”


The inspection is now playing in selected theaters.


Thumbnails by: ©Paramount Pictures, Everett Collection, ©MGM, ©Universal

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