“It Was Important For Me Not To Judge Her” Jill Scott Talks About Playing An Abused Woman In “Get On Up”
The new James Brown biopic, Get On Up, that comes to theaters tomorrow deals with the good, bad and ugly of James Brown’s life. And trust, it’s not all a bed of roses. He’s lived through some very horrific situations. But he didn’t leave all of his demons in the past. It’s a well documented fact that James Brown was abusive to at least one of his wives, Deedee Brown. And the movie doesn’t shy away from that.
Singer, actress, poet, renaissance woman Jill Scott portrays Deedee Brown and there is one scene where we see her being hit. In her recent interview with Huffington Post Live, Jill Scott spoke about how challenging it was for her to play this particular part and how she learned a new lesson about love during the process.
See what she had to say.
Was it hard as a woman not to snap out of character and respond to being hit?
Honestly, being with Chad, he was so-he so embodied the spirit of James Brown that when we were on set, I forgot about Jill Scott. I was Deedee Brown and he was, without a question, James Brown. That was my husband. Between shooting, I’d get him something to eat, I’d make sure that he was fine, I’d massage his back. We were really in the moment.
Was it challenging for you to play this role as a woman, as a mother
It was kind of hard to play someone who loves someone so deeply and has this abusive relationship. You kind of have to forgive and also, not judge. This is not my life. And eventually, they parted ways.
My mother– and I’ll say I–we were in an abusive relationship, early on in my life, I must have been four when it was all over. I give my mother so much credit for walking away from it, being that brave and never looking back. We were never in that situation again. To understand someone who would stay, for a period of time, I really…it was very important for me not to judge her and just love the man.
Even now, she will tell you that she’s very much in love with James Brown, today. So that’s a level of devotion and love. It taught me about love. It’s not always sweet— I’m not trying to say to stay in that relationship. Please don’t stay in an abusive relationship if you’re in one, please don’t stay, please don’t stay, don’t stay.
But at the same time I’m a voyeur and I’m an appreciator of humanity and I’m interested in people. This was a real lesson for me on a different kind of woman, a different kind of love. I only know my version, I only know my brand. But this was a great experience for me and a pleasure to get to know James Brown on a different level.
We all will if you watch the film, you will find out why he was the way he was, why that voice came out of that spirit the way that it did. Why his body moves the way it does. This was the man who was the father of Michael Jackson, the father of Prince, the father of Fela, the father of so many artists. And there’s a reason for it. You don’t just wake up great for nothing. You have to go through the hell sometimes to get to heaven and that’s just the way it is. You’ll see that.
You can watch Jill Scott’s entire interview with Huffington Post in the video below. The domestic violence portion starts around the 2:20 mark.