By Rych McCain
He has captured our attention with convincing performances as Henry Lowe in “The Great Debaters” or “Blood Done Signed My Name” as the real life Ben Chavis, and Marty “Easy” Julian in the George Lucas classic WWII Epic “Red Tails.” He will now surprise audiences with yet another brilliant portrayal as computer expert Zack White in Universal Pictures’ smash hit “Non-Stop” starring Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Lupita Nyongo. Norfolk, Virginia native Nate Parker has been gaining serious ground as an actor in Hollywood and this may be one of his best roles yet. “Non-Stop” thundered in at #1 for its opening weekend with a $30 million box office gross. It is without question that this film’s gate receipts will soar through the roof in the coming weeks because the plot and action is just that good.
This movie might add more fear of flying than entertainment for some viewers, as 90% of the movie takes place on the plane while it is in flight over the mid-Atlantic. The action is close quarters, which adds to the uneasiness. Parker is a former high school All-American wrestler who he won the Virginia 135lb State Championship, and continued his All-America status throughout his college career at Penn State. He later transferred to Oklahoma where he graduated with a degree in computer science. Did he have to train for the fight scenes? He laughs, “Yeah, I did train a little bit. Liam was a boxer when he was a little younger and I was an athlete in college. I wrestled so we traded a lot of stories and we had a guy come in to bring us through the fight scenes, so it was good. It was a lot of fun to play a character who was a computer programmer, which is what I studied in college really. So sitting there and talking about it. He (Jaume the director) let me have a little bit control of the dialogue and how I would say things. Jaume was very open to the ideas I was bringing to the table. So it was a lot of work to do but it was fun doing the action stuff.”
How would Parker summarize his role as a terrorist which he has never played before? He comes back with an interesting analogy, “I believe that there are no villains, everyone has their reasons. I think that when you approach material from the standpoint of bad guy, you start to play more of a character than what that person really is. Everyone has ideas, passions and desires and these are two vets (guys in the movie) who felt like they got a raw deal when they came back to the states. All of the things that they sacrificed, the death that they saw, these things made them feel like they needed to do something to hold America accountable. So I think in his mind, everything was justified. So I had to attack it from that standpoint.”
Parker adds, “There are all kinds of roles that I want to play. One of my biggest passions is that I want to portray Nat Turner. A lot of people thought he was a bad guy. It’s your perspective. I don’t think he was a bad guy at all. We all have ideas of what we want, why we want it and what we’ll do to achieve these things. These are two men (getting back to the film’s high jackers) who are willing to die for what they believe.”
Photo By: Universal Pictures