It’s been 30 years since the multifaceted Wendell Pierce hit the big screen, and in his latest role as Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in HBO’s Confirmation, viewers can expect to see him once again in an entirely different light. We caught up with Pierce ahead of Confirmation‘s premiere, to get the scoop on how this HBO favorite was able to tackle such a controversial character. Set your DVR for the premiere of Confirmation tomorrow at 8/7c on HBO (Ch. 501).
You definitely don’t shy away from complicated characters, but we’re interested in knowing more about what drew you to this project in particular?
For me it was really about the challenge of playing a real person, the historic nature of the events, and working with director Rick Famuyiwa and Kerry Washington.
You’ve developed a really special relationship with HBO throughout the years. How did working on this film differ from some of the other projects that you’ve done for the network?
The material was just so different. Justice Thomas was an enigma to me and I really had to be a student of human behavior. But while this project was different than The Wire and Treme, the consistency of HBO’s support of the artistic vision is rock solid. For 15 years, HBO has given me a platform to do my work as an artist and I will be forever grateful. HBO has defined my career.
Politics can be so divisive and you’re decidedly liberal in comparison to the character that you’re playing—was it difficult for you to inhabit the persona of someone who’s beliefs don’t mirror your own? Did you have to “go method” and try to see things from a different perspective to nail this character?
The justice and I don’t share political views, but this journey wasn’t a political one. I had to inhabit the emotional life of a man who is about to lose the best opportunity of his life. That danger and fear definitely isn’t exclusive to any political view.
What was the energy like on set? We’d imagine it would have been quite tense at points!
As with all great drama, conflict and tension produced the best results.
What are you most excited for viewers to experience while watching the film?
The awareness and vigilance heightened to uphold our values of intolerance of sexual harassment. We must never lose the ability to be offended.