Trevante Rhodes Talks Roles in JAY-Z’s ‘Family Feud’ Visual & ’12 Strong’ Movie
Trevante Rhodes brings life to each role he tackles. After playing Black in the Oscar-winning drama Moonlight alongside Mahershala Ali, he continues to pursue challenging film endeavors like his latest film, 12 Strong, which hit theaters today (January 19).
The movie follows the story of the first Special Forces team after they were deployed to Afghanistan post-September 11. In the emotional action film, Rhodes plays a soldier named Ben Milo alongside co-stars, Chris Hemsworth and Michael Peña.
When asked about his own memories of 9/11, he remembers chaos while at school in north Texas (he was born in Louisiana before moving to Little Elm). “I specifically remember how frantic the day was directly after the event happened, honestly,” he tells TIDAL. ”Kids were running around the school, teachers running around the school, and being 11-years-old or whatever [age it was], experiencing that was very unique because that’s your teacher who’s supposed to be taking control of the situation. For me, it was frantic and then mom showed up a few hours later.”
To prepare for the role of Milo, Rhodes went straight to the source. “I was fortunate enough to meet quite a few guys who have served and are currently serving. I got their experiences and their perspective prior going to war, post-war, during fire battles and everything, the good and bad perspectives of being a soldier and I also got the opportunity to speak to a couple of the guys we portray in the film,” he says.
“That was amazing because obviously it’s their story and so to have the accurate perspective, to have those guys while we were shooting, it was incredibly valuable. They gave us a piece of the Twin Towers that they were gifted. Our production designers were so good at finding things that pretty much duplicated what I would expect it to look like in Afghanistan, and so when you get in the space, you’re there. Emotionally, you can feel attached to what the event was.”
While there was no emotional hurdles Rhodes had to cross during filming, he wanted to make the soldiers he met proud with his performance. He personally related to Milo through the work ethic. “It’s a classified mission, up until now so nobody knows. It’s like being on a football team and there’s no names on the back [of the jerseys]. You go in, you handle business and you come back so there’s no hurrah about it and I love that,” he continues. “I love people who focus on the work and go handle business ‘cause it’s excessive and unnecessary.”
The former football player and track and field runner put in work himself before landing in Hollywood. A talent recruiter asked him while in college to audition for a part in a small film based on his resemblance to the character they were seeking and continued to do auditions around Texas then eventually Los Angeles. As his star rose, he was also sought out by filmmaker extraordinaire, Ava DuVernay, to appear in JAY-Z’s “Family Feud” short film.
“I have this opportunity to do this thing, given the opportunity to work with some people I’m curious about and want you to meet, are you interested?,” Rhodes recalls of DuVernay’s phone call about the star-studded opportunity, which included cameos from Thandie Newton and Michael B. Jordan. “I was like yes, it’s Ava and then she told me who was involved and I was like, yeah! Of course!” While Rhodes wasn’t able to meet Hov himself, the soundtrack to his hustle throughout his acting career has been Reasonable Doubt. “You can hear the hunger and potential,” he says of JAY-Z’s beloved debut.
The future looks even brighter for Rhodes. He’s already working on upcoming movies like the sci-fi flick The Predator due later this year as well as the Sandra Bullock project and post-apocalyptic thriller for Netflix titled Bird Box. While the blessings seem to keep rolling in, Rhodes still doesn’t let the accolades — both past and pending — get to his head. “Right now is the most important thing to me,” he says. “It’s just flattering and an honor to keep working.”
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