Taraji P. Henson is hitting theaters soon with Proud Mary, one of her most important films yet; the above-the-title lead is also an executive producer.
Henson plays Mary, a professional hit-woman working for an organized crime family in Boston, who’s life is changed forever when she crosses paths with a young boy during a hit gone wrong.
Prior to the film’s January 12th release, we had the opportunity to visit the set and catch up with the cast. Check out our Q & A with the superstar herself, Taraji P Henson.
It was said early on that you were their first choice for this role. What made you want to go ahead and take on this film?
Henson: This is different from anything I’ve ever done before. I really love playing different characters so it felt different. The challenge for me, is how do you make a character that people could really hate, likable? She kills a lot of people, but for a good reason.
Did you enjoy the action side of it?
Henson: It’s like getting paid to play cop and robbers. It’s actually a dream come true; the closest thing to a Marvel Comic character to me.
The action stuff [was also the biggest challenge I faced]. I really hurt my arm and I’m thinking… When you see the action, it’s like, “Oh, that’s fine. I can do that.” It doesn’t look too dangerous, but with just one false move, you can hit the wrong bone at the wrong angle, tweaking it or breaking it.
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Is it difficult to go from an assassin during filming back to your normal life?
Henson: I have played a lot of deep, heavy characters in my career and I just have a switch. People are amazed at that actually, because I can literally snot cry, ugly face cry, and when they yell cut, I can be like, “Girl, so anyway, back to what I…”
…I know my instrument. So, I know when to turn it on and when to turn it off. So that’s how I live. I’m not the one where you have to call me by the character’s name. As a matter of fact, please don’t. I hate that I’m Cookie now. People will call me that on the street and I cringe. I’m the type of actor where I can get away. They go cut, and I’m out of it. I still gotta be me. I have to be me in portraying these characters, otherwise you go mad. ‘Cause who are you? You’re always a character? It’s a job. Some people do this for a living, I do this.
However, it was her mission that moved us the most…
Henson: My mission is to do great work, to leave an incredible legacy behind. I want to do work that people study. I want be Bette Davis. I want to be that work that young thespians go, “I’ll study Taraji P. Henson’s work. It was her eyes, it was…” whatever it is. I focus on that. I focus on, as an artist, how can I change lives? How can I reach as many people? I don’t care what color you are,what you believe in, who you sleep with at night. I want to touch a heart with my work. That’s why I play all these crazy characters