Oscar frontrunner Moonlight tells the story of Chiron, a young black man growing up in the slums of Miami. The film is told in three parts -- with a different actor playing the character as a child, a teenager and an adult -- and the resemblance between the three is uncanny, and one of the most fascinating parts of the movie’s complicated, heartbreaking story.
“It’s amazing to see how Chiron, this character that’s corrupted, could grow up to be so different, in a way, but also the same,” star Alex R. Hibbert told ET on the red carpet at Sunday’s awards show.
All three actors who played Chiron -- 12-year-old Hibbert, 21-year-old Ashton Sanders and 27-year-old Trevante Rhodes -- walked the Oscars carpet together, rocking coordinated black suits with black ties, and stopped to speak with ET’s Nancy O’Dell and Kevin Frazier about what the film’s awards season recognition means to them.
“It means everything,” Rhodes marveled. “It means everything for the industry, it means everything for the world, in my opinion. I feel like inclusion, acceptance, all these things are the most important things we have. Love is the most important thing we have. So, for this film to be receiving what it’s receiving, and to be here… it’s great for the industry and it’s great for us.”
“It’s surreal, man.” Sanders told ET of his first Oscars red carpet, as Rhodes ribbed him for “shaking” when he arrived at the awards show. “All of this is surreal, for all of us.”
Sanders, who is currently working towards a BFA in acting at DePaul University’s Theatre School, had another surreal moment at last month’s SAG Awards, when he got to meet one of his industry idols, Denzel Washington.
“That was one of my dopest experiences thus far,” he marveled to ET. “That’s Denzel Washington, he’s one of my biggest inspirations. I did [get a little excited], I can’t lie.”
The young actor is even getting the chance to work alongside his hero, dishing a little on a top-secret project he and Washington have in the works.
“Something I can’t really talk about, but we do have a project that we’re working on,” Sanders told ET. “Stay tuned for that.”
As for their Oscars aspirations, Rhodes admitted that “being here with these guys, seeing Barry [Jenkins, Moonlight writer and director], seeing Tarell [Alvin McCraney, who helped co-write the film, which is based on his play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue] do his thing, and Mahershala [Ali, nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight],” was reward enough, though he certainly wouldn’t mind another win.
“It would be amazing [to win], obviously,” he added. “It would be beyond amazing to be up on that stage. That’s the pinnacle.”