Ever since 1993, when Bokeem Woodbine hit the big screen in “Strapped” and “Crooklyn,” he has steadily built a varied and solid body of work.
It’s clear Woodbine likes to mix it up. He’s starred in “Black Dynamite,” “Ray,” “3000 Miles to Graceland,” “Soul Food,” “Life,” “The Rock,” “Dead Presidents” “Jason’s Lyric” and more.
Now he’s set to star in the blockbuster, science fiction action film, “Total Recall,” (Columbia) alongside Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy and Jessica Biel.
It’s an action thriller about reality and memory, inspired anew by the famous short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” by Philip K. Dick.
I caught up with the Harlem native to talk about his latest film and his career.
DD: Tell us about the movie, what can we expect?
BW: The movie totally deals with a man who, when the movie opens, finds he has been, for some time, dealing with these dreams that bother him throughout the day. They don’t go away like most dreams do. He’s starting to think he’s not who he thinks he is. Something else is going on beneath the surface, something sinister. He’s trying to put together the puzzle, which leads to an adventure. We, the audience, get to go along on that adventure.
DD: You play, Harry. Who is Harry?
BW: He’s the man’s friend, mentor and big brother figure. And he is somebody who helps.
DD: Did you see the first “Total Recall” with Arnold Schwarzenegger?
BW: Yes, I was a huge fan of the first.
DD: What did you think when you were presented with this movie?
BW: My initial thought was, I’m thrilled. If I could be part of this, it would be dynamite. I love science fiction. It’s been 20 years. I had thought I’d never be in a science fiction picture.
The impossible is possible.
DD: You seem to work steadily when other actors don’t. Your thoughts.
BW: No formula for this. I tried to figure it out for a number of years. There is no rhyme or reason. It’s why sometimes you might see some people who aren’t that talented working and some who are infinitely talented and they hardly ever get to work. The only thing I can say is I made a a real attempt to do it the last 10 years, to be more adamant about turning stuff down even when I can use the money. That’s the only strategy I’ve put in play. I’ve been blessed in the past eight years. I took more responsibility for my career, by saying no to things.
DD: Are you encouraged or discouraged by where Blacks are in the industry?
BW: I’m hopeful. My perception about it, I’m encouraged. I see us getting involed in aspects of the business that we haven’t before. Production and more power in the studio system. I see us really making great strides. The trickle down effect that now people are more savvy about the business on every level. So many brothers and sisters know about cinematography and how films are put together from a financial aspect. There are so many more of us with valuable information. Also so many great strides have been made on the other side of camera. We’re owning property, directing, writing and financing films ourselves. Not so positive is the fact that often times when we have this ability to make any kind of picture we want, that we want to do – when we have budgets and can make movies for less for that and make huge returns – we play to only one aspect of the audience. As Black people we are limiting what we are capable of doing. It becomes stereotypic stereotyping of ourselves. We are not fully utilizing our resources, we have so much more potential to appeal to mainstream, not just our community. That’s the discouraging part. This could be a stagnant period for us. We might continue to grow and gain power in the industry and learn about the business and make these leaps and bounds. But the material has to change. I just don’t understand how that is.
DD: Are you still doing your music with your group, 13 Purple Dragons?
BW: Yes, that’s my band. We’re a rock n roll band. I’m the lead guitar player and singer. We just recorded something up in Canada. We might pursue our deal up there. We recorded something that has a lot of people interested. I do the writing. My vision for my band is too big for me to handle independently. Projecting ahead I think some time next year there will be a single dropping, our first single might drop before next year. Maybe it will by the end of this year.
“Total Recall,” in theaters nationwide Aug. 3, has been rated PG-13 for intense sequences of Sci-Fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity and language.