Talking about the Musical Film “Revival” with Kirk Taylor. : ThyBlackMan

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Talking about the Musical Film “Revival” with Kirk Taylor.

March 11, 2019 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( There are actors that leaving a lasting memory with us in a film, yet we may not know who they are. They may not be the lead we always see out front, but their contribution to the films that mean so much. Kirk Taylor has played in many films we’ve grown to love such as: School Daze, The Last Dragon, and Full Metal Jacket. He took the time to talk to us a it about his journey in the film industry, and the new role he has taken on as Peter in the musical film Revival.

TBM: You have played in several memorable films. Tell our readers, that may be wondering who you are, about some of the roles you’ve played. I definitely looked for you in School Daze

KT: I love “School Daze” we shot that in Atlanta in the 90s; it was two months of bliss with Spike and the team. I’m an actor, musician and teacher. The film work that I’ve done has given me the privilege to work in some iconic films, and unique roles. In School Daze I play Sir Nose, and if people forget I just remind that that when I was smacked with the paddle I sang “Make My Funk the P Funk”. You should I did not pledge, and the reason I didn’t was because I was at a predominately white university (NYU).  I didn’t know about any black chapters there. Right before that I was in Full Metal Jacket which was a great war movie.

If I want to remind people of who I am I’ll mention “The Thousand Yard Stare” because I’m the first guy to bring it up; I was Sargent Payback. I have moments like that in films where I was a supporting lead. Then I was in Freedom Song, a civil rights piece, in that one I play Roland Brown I think it was. It was actually based on a real character, and it was based on what happened with SNCC during the 60’s. There was a look at a lot of the violence in the 60’s, and the had times the people endured; we met the real guys that survived. I played a SNCC worker that was beaten senseless at some point. Death Wish 3 was a big role, as Death Wish was one of the first real vigilante films I saw as a kid.  Charles Bronson was bigger than life. In that film I play The Giggler, and when I watched the film for the first time, I was thinking…you need to kill that guy. The Giggler was so fast snatching pocket books and lives that they had to send away for a special gun.

I was in The Return of Superfly which no one has seem because they had some problems with producing, but it was out for a short while. Then there was The Last Dragon which is another iconic black martial arts film. I love The Last Dragon in which I play Crunch. I’m the guy that kicks the pizza parlor window in, spit in the dojo, and then got my butt whipped by a 3ft tall martial artist…a little kid actually two of them. They beat me like a rented mule. Every film helps you progress to the next film. I did MacArthur Park and I was really proud of that role.  There were a few things going on after that like The Angriest Man in Brooklyn which was the second to last Robin Williams film. I had the privilege of working with Robin, and Mila Kunis. I’ve had some really cool roles in very interesting films. Revival is the most recent one.

TBM: Talk to us about your role as Cephas (Peter) in “Revival”. How did you prepare for the role of Peter?

KT: That’s a great question. We used his name Cephas as it would have been used in his native tongue.  Some of the people watching it, that knew some of the story, were thinking I thought that was a different character.  So, in doing that one doesn’t get ahead of the story. How I’d prepare for it…this is one of those things where I’ve seen the hand of God in my career in so many areas. I would have been prepared in my life to do a certain role, and when the role comes, I’d be shaking my head thinking this is perfect. The timing of this is perfect, it’s a subject I’ve been dealing with, and I could bring some truth to it because I know it. Several roles have been like that, but Revival has been a culmination of my life in a sense to really understand the complexities of this great man…a pillar of the church. He is a strong impulsive committed flawed, at times foolish, man, yet to understand that takes some experience.

One would have to taste some successes, and I have, and there has been defeat as well. One of the greatest arcs in the film, other than Jesus, is to see his reluctance to come in and him being skeptical. His brother Andrew brings him in who had been following John the Baptist. He’s a follower as far as I’m concerned.  So, I start off in a certain place but, as the character, slowly I see things happen and I see the miracles I realize he is the Christ. At that point I’m in 100%.  We shot the scene, though it’s not in the film, where I cut off the ear of one of the guards. Peter had a knife, he was a rough dude, but he was a committed guy. He loved the Lord and made the great confession, then a little while later he gets rebuked and Jesus says, “get behind me Satan you don’t have in mind the things of God just the things of men”. So, Peter is on a high and great low; we were able to get that in the film.

My training, life, lifelong reading of scripture, and being a part of miracles in my family were all apart of the preparation. Being called to do that role as Simon Peter was a dream come true. To bring his soul to life right there in front of the world was a particular honor, and an overwhelming responsibility as we are dealing with the important subject of eternity.

TBM: What impact did meeting Sidney Poitier have on you as an actor?

KT: Meeting him was really the highlight of my life, especially the context of it all. I had done a film called MacArthur Park, and I played a cop Officer Randolph Davis. It was one of those performances that I’ve only had twice on my career, I did this with Cephas (Peter) too, where you watch the character thinking I believe that guy. Of course, I know it’s me, but I saw him I saw I was able to give the life to this guy. I was watching the character in in MacArthur Park, and we went to the Sundance Film Festival that year. I remember watching it going I believe that guy, I believe he’s a cop, I believe what he’s trying to do is a righteous stand, and I was very happy then the credits rolled.

The credits didn’t have my name at all… I was no where in the credits. Its devastating; as an actor you work so hard to get a role then you actually make it onset, I’m in the edit, and then at the theatre they forgot your name. I’ve had it happen a few times and it is unpleasant. We did a second screening in LA, and I brought my friends. Sidney Poitier was in the audience because he was watching his daughter performing in this. Again, I’m happy with my work, but I just dropped my head when the credits roll so no one would see my face or reaction. When we finished the film I walked out, and out of the corner of my eye I see someone moving towards me. I looked, and it was Sidney Poitier coming towards me.  He walked up to me and said, “did you play the cop”. I said yes Mr. Poitier I did play the cop. He then said, “I want you to know I watched you very closely and I did not know if you were a real cop or an actor, and that was meant to be a compliment to you…I thought to myself that cop should be an actor.”

At that point my eyes were as wide as saucers, and I told him Mr. Poitier I so appreciate it that means so much to me because my name is actually left out of the credits. He then said, “where you are going in your career that will not matter the presence you bring to the screen” …at that point I was through.  I couldn’t hear anymore; I was watching his lips move because at that point I had been saturated with compliments from one of the great actors of our time.  I was floored. That was the compliment of compliments coming from a transcendent actor, one of the greats.

TBM: Having seen so many facets of show business, what advise would you give aspiring actors?

KT: What I have gathered from my experiences is there is a bigger picture than what’s in our plans, so I always start in a position of prayer on my knees in my prayer closet. I ask God to help me understand my own heart, and all the things I have in me to do. Start with what is your burden and vision to see if it’s a God idea or a good idea. Once you find that passion knowing that this is what God put inside you its time to seriously pursue it, and train.  Don’t think because God said it, I’m just going to show up and do it. Spend time getting into classes, do projects, do short films, make your own films, but spend time learning the process of our craft until you become excellent in it. Its much harder to deny excellence than it is mediocrity. Surround yourself with people who will support that vision, not tear you down. Define your circle; not everybody is meant for everything. Build your team knowing you can not make it on your own. It might be your face alone on the magazine, but it took many to get you there…others had to invest in you. Those steps will open the possibility for great success if this is something you are called to do.

I will be re-watching several films with the performance of Kirk Taylor in mind. He speaks of his craft with a passion and reverence that tells us this has been a life long journey, with much more to come. In the film “Revival” we will see a biblical adaptation with a majority black cast which is sure to be refreshing. The film will go back into theatres in April 2019 around the Easter holiday. Look for it at a theatre near you. In addition to checking out the film we should also keep an eye out for Kirk Taylor, as he is definitely a credit to his craft.

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Staff Writer; Christian Starr

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