Jeffrey Wright has opened up about his time filming American Fiction, coming clean about a long-held crush on his co-star.
The 58-year-old has appeared in , including The Batman, , Shaft and Ali.
He took on the role of author Monk in Cord Jefferson’s directorial debut alongside Tracee Ellis Ross, Sterling K Brown, and John Ortiz – with the flick landing a string of awards and nominations, including two nods.
However, speaking to Metro.co.uk on the red carpet at the premiere on Sunday, why his moments with Leslie Uggams, who portrayed his mother, were a special – and slightly confusing – highlight.
‘I love this film, and I love the people that I got to work with on it,’ he told us. ‘So that’s the first order of business right now, just getting the film out so that people can see it. And I’m excited for that to happen.
‘I had fun every day on this film. I really loved getting to talk to Leslie Uggams about her career, people that she had worked with like Frank Sinatra, Flip Wilson, Dean Martin and the Rat Pack, all of that.
‘That was really just a wonderful treat since I’ve been an admirer of hers for many years.
‘In fact, on the last day – rather on her last day of filming – I said, “Leslie, I have to confess to you that, from the moment I first saw you, I’ve had a crush on you.”
‘Which was a little bit awkward because she was playing my mother, which is the reason I waited until that day. So it wouldn’t complicate matters.
‘Every day was wonderful on this one, but maybe that was particularly wonderful.’
In American Fiction, Jeffrey plays novelist Thelonious ‘Monk’ Ellison, who becomes frustrated over how ‘the establishment profits from “Black” entertainment based on tired and offensive tropes’.
Attempting to prove a point, he takes matters into his own hands and pens an outlandish book under a pen name, before it becomes a smash success and propels him ‘into the hypocrisy and madness he claims to disdain’.
It’s a very different role for the actor than we’ve seen him take on in the past – which is part of the reason he accepted the offer.
‘I was drawn to it because it was a character and a story that I had not been asked to do before,’ he continued. ‘I like to do things that are original. Not only for an audience, ideally, but also for me. I don’t like to retrace old steps.
‘This was a character that was one that we don’t often see. It also happened to be a character that overlapped, in many ways, with my own life.
‘I was drawn in on an emotional and personal level, to telling this story.’
American Fiction is released in US cinemas on December 15.