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Actors Russell Hornsby, Jovan Adepo star in film version of August Wilson’s ‘Fences’

Colette Greenstein | 12/23/2016, 6 a.m.
“Fences” is the story of Troy Maxson, a married sanitation worker in 1950s Pittsburgh, who once dreamed of being a ...
(L-R): Jovan Adepo and Russell Hornsby pose at the the LA Guild Screening of “Fences” at the Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles, CA on Nov. 5. Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

“He wrote such deep, three-dimensional complex characters that in order to service the role and service the work and the material, you have to dive in. You have to be Troy. You have to be Lyons. You have to be Cory,” said actor Russell Hornsby of “letting go” and immersing himself in his character Lyons in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play “Fences.” Hornsby and his “Fences” co-star Jovan Adepo sat down with the Banner last month as part of the promotional tour for the film.

He went on to add, “In other films or whatever, they’re archetypes, so you kind of have to add some hot sauce to it, add some pepper in there, and put your own little thing. You don’t need to add nothing. It’s right there. It’s ready to serve and ready to eat. So, all you have to do is lend yourself to it. That’s the beauty,” described the actor of August Wilson’s words and writings.

Hornsby, who starred alongside Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in the 2010 Broadway revival, reprises his role in the Washington-directed film which opens in theaters nationwide on Christmas Day. The film also stars Stephen McKinley Henderson (Jim Bono), Mykelti Williamson (Gabe) and Saniyya Sidney (Raynell).

“Fences” is the story of Troy Maxson, a married sanitation worker in 1950s’ Pittsburgh, who once dreamed of being a professional baseball player but was too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. Frustrated by the lack of opportunities and relegated to the role of a garbage man, Maxson lashes out at those closest to him and makes a decision that threatens to tear his family apart.

A graduate of Boston University, Hornsby is best known for his roles as Eddie Sutton on ABC Family’s “Lincoln Heights” and as Detective Hank Griffin on the NBC series “Grimm.” He also starred in the HBO drama series “In Treatment,” opposite Gabriel Byrne.

Jovan Adepo, who is known for his role as Michael Murphy on HBO’s “The Leftovers,” stars as Cory Maxson, Troy (Washington) and Rose’s (Davis) son and half-brother to Lyons (Hornsby). “Fences” marks his feature film debut.

Stepping into the role of Cory with the original cast members from the 2010 revival was “initially very nerve wracking” for the British-born Adepo — in part due to the pressure that he was putting on himself to meet the challenges of performing. But he came through it by making sure he was prepared for the role and doing the work, stated the actor.

One of the blessings of working on the film for Adepo was not only the advice he received from his fellow actors but also the opportunity to rehearse with them, and to sit and watch them prepare. “It was like a master class — getting to watch all of these talented actors do their thing and try to contribute where I could,” summed up Adepo.