EXCLUSIVE: 'Moonlight' Star Andre Holland Is Focused on the Craft, Not the Hype

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André Holland doesn’t appear onscreen until the end of Moonlight, the award-winning coming-of-age
film about Chiron, a gay black boy coming to terms with his sexuality. Based on
Tarell McCraney's semiautobiographical play InMoonlight Black Boys Look Blue, the
story is told in three parts, with Holland playing the grown-up version of
Kevin, the only man Chiron lets himself be sexually intimate with. 

“That part of the story is about them becoming
reacquainted,” Holland tells ET about his chapter, “Black,” which sees Kevin
calling Chiron to reconnect over dinner. “They’ve changed so much and they’re
trying to find a common ground.” 

MORE: 'Moonlight' Star Mahershala Ali Is Ready to Carry the Story

When Holland does finally assume the role of Kevin, he doesn’t
waste a single moment of his limited screen time. He’s so believable in the
moment, seducing both Chiron (played by the quietly stunning Trevante Rhodes)
and audiences. He’s magnetic. He’s handsome. He draws you in to the very last,
heartbreaking scene with Chiron and Kevin. There’s not much dialogue exchanged
between the two actors in those final moments, but all the tension is there. 

“The writing of that scene is so great,” Holland says,
crediting Barry Jenkins, who wrote and directed the film. “It’s one of those
things that often can get overlooked because it’s so seemingly simple. But
every time you watch it, you go, ‘Wait a minute!’ There are these little shifts
happening all the way throughout that scene that are really beautiful.” 

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Largely known for playing Dr. Algernon Edwards on Steven
Soderbergh’s Cinemax series, The Knick,
opposite Clive Owen, the 36-year-old actor (37 on Dec. 28) is enjoying a
breakout moment thanks to both Moonlight
and his debut role on the FX anthology series American Horror Story.

Playing Matt Miller, one half of a couple living on the
outskirts of the lost Roanoke colony in North Carolina, Holland was one of the
standout newcomers on Roanoke. Largely
a talking head during the first half of the season’s TV documentary, Holland
made the most of his monologues, offering compelling testimony about being
terrorized by evil spirits. He joined Cuba Gooding Jr. and Adina Porter, who fit
in nicely with returning AHS stars
Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett. 

MORE: How 'Moonlight' Stretched Naomie Harris as a Performer

But Holland, who is busy filming Ava DuVernay’s adaptation
of A Wrinkle in Time and will be
returning to the Broadway stage in August Wilson’s Jitney, is the first to admit that he doesn’t pay attention to the
hype surrounding his projects. “I guess maybe that’s because my focus is always
been on the work,” he says. “I’m like a craft creature. I’m always focused on

In fact, he hasn’t even seen American Horror Story: Roanoke. “I’m not even a big watcher of
things that I do,” Holland admits, before correcting himself: “I’ve watched Moonlight -- a number of times!”

--Additional reporting
from Denny Directo