ComingSoon.net Managing Editor Tyler Treese caught up with Monster star Kelvin Harrison Jr. to discuss the court drama, which is out May 7 on Netflix. Based upon the novel by Walter Dean Myers of the same name, it follows the trial of Steve Harmon, a model youth played by Harrison Jr., that gets accused of participating in an armed robbery that left a convenience owner dead.
Check out ComingSoon.net’s Monster Interview with Kelvin Harrison Jr. in the video below (or read a full transcription further down the page):
Tyler Treese: The original novel Monster is such an important piece of young adult fiction, and it deals with some really important subject matter such as race issues, the legal system, and discrimination. Can you speak to what it means personally to star in a film that tackles these matters with such care and nuance?
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: I think it means a lot to me now. It meant a lot to me at the time when I was doing it. I think what I really love about the character of Steve is the fact that he was very much where I was at the time. In terms of, I really identify with being 17, and even now, I’m like 26 and still trying to figure out who I am—my identity as a black man in the world.
How do people see me? How do I see myself? Am I allowed to be curious? What does it mean when I’m trying to explore different avenues in my life, and how am I being judged for that? What does it also mean to have privilege as a black man and to have certain allowances that may not have happened previously for my parents or my grandparents, or like some of my peers? I’m trying to navigate all of these things, and I think it really meant a lot to kind of have a story that highlights that and wants to talk about how difficult it is to navigate that and make sense of it for yourself. It was really special.
As a musician yourself, was it exciting to work with ASAP Rocky?
Yeah. I mean, he’s a great guy. I mean, musician aside, I think he’s just a great dude and his energy and his artistry as a person. He’s an artist, and I think I really connect with that and identify with that. It was really fun just being around someone who shares those common vibes.
I found Nas’ role in the film so interesting because he’s a source of knowledge, just like in his raps. So behind the scenes, did he impart any knowledge there? How was it like working with him?
It was great. He’s very professional. Everyone came in… It was a very tight shoot, so we didn’t have a lot of time to really chat. That was my first big job. It was the first time I had a lead role in a movie. So I was really just focused, and I didn’t really talk to people much off-camera. I kind of kept the relationships the way they were in the movie. When we were speaking, we were speaking, and then if we weren’t, I was probably trying to figure out what the next thing I needed to do was. So I didn’t really get to talk to him that much. But when we were in the scene, he was very wonderful and very giving with his wisdom and love to young aspiring artists. So I really appreciate that.
Thanks to Harrison Jr. for their time and Netflix for setting the interview up.