Stars of Oscar Grant film wanted to 'get it right'

June 21, 2013 7:55:06 PM PDT
The story of Oscar Grant is making headlines again following a private screening of a film at Oakland's Grand Lake Theatre. The stars as well as Grant's family sat down Thursday with ABC7 News to talk about the project.

The stars of "Fruitvale Station" said they're less concerned with awards and accolades. They simply wanted to create a body of work that Oscar's family and a community, shaken by his violent death, could be proud of. "Honestly, I want people to watch this film and feel some type of emotion," said Michael B. Jordan.

"Fruitvale Station" stars Octavia Spencer as Oscar Grant's mother and Michael B. Jordan as Grant. The two stars said that as central characters of a film with a subject that has touched so many, they felt a special need to "get it right."

"I like the way Ryan wrote this script because, what a controversial issue. But instead of taking any side and editorializing, he just presents the young man as a flawed human being," Spencer said.

At Thursday night's private screening, Grant's mother Wanda Johnson said seeing the last day of her son's life played out on screen hit every nerve. "I put my head down and covered my ears at certain parts of the movie, so it's a very hard movie to go through, to watch," she said.

The movie was shot on the streets of the East Bay and includes scenes from the BART platform where Grant was shot. It traces the last hours before the unarmed 22-year-old Hayward man was shot by then-BART police officer Johannes Mehserle on New Year's Day 2009.

Mehserle was charged with murder, but a Los Angeles jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter. The killing and the courtroom drama ignited passions and sparked riots across Oakland.

The film will open on July 12 and was directed by Oakland native Ryan Coogler. Asked what he you wanted people to walk away with after seeing the movie he said, "I think the art has an incredible power, storytelling, especially filmmaking, has an incredible power to trigger empathy for people, for characters or human beings they have never come into physical contact with. I think that empathy can trigger a thought process."


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