Jennifer Hudson's Hip-Hop Take on 'Silent Night'
November 04, 2013
Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson returns to the musical genre in the holiday drama Black Nativity and says the film's incredibly diverse and modern soundtrack is one aspect that drew her to the project.
"The music in this film is so amazing and it's the underline, it tells the story. I think it was so well done by Raphael (music producer Raphael Saadiq) to keep the tradition and gospel in the music," Hudson told ET during an interview to promote the movie. "I've never heard a hip-hop version of Silent Night, who does that? So it made it really today and real edgy at the same time."
Hitting theaters November 27, Black Nativity is a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes' celebrated play. The story follows Langston (Jacob Latimore) -- a street-wise teen raised by a single mother -- as he travels to New York City to spend Christmas with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett). Unwilling to live by the reverend's imposing rules, Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima (Hudson). His inspirational journey leads him to discover the true meaning of faith, healing, and family.
Latimore, 17 -- who is described by fellow cast members as the movie's breakout star -- also praised the film's music, which he said actually helped him become a better actor. "The music really spoke our emotions... It's so great to just do music and acting in one film, especially when you love music so much."
"It was a challenge, but it was welcomed, I loved it," Bassett said about also singing in the film, which she said reflects the way traditional music changes throughout the generations. "And I just love the idea of the music and the different types of music, and there's something for everyone. Music is so important in terms of American culture and African American culture," she said.
Tyrese Gibson said when he was first approached about his role, he was surprised to learn that writer/director Kasi Lemmons had him in mind when she wrote the movie. "I was honored to get that call, because she said she wrote the part and had me in mind, and I was like, wow! And then when I got the script, the character's name was Tyrese. And then I was like, oh so you really had me in mind. But I said, 'I'm sorry Kasi but Tyrese isn't going to be playing Tyrese,' so she changed my name to Tyson."
Watch the video to also hear R&B star Mary J. Blige explain how she got involved in the project and why she thinks the film will resonate because of its important moral message.