Jennifer Hudson Explains Why Her Emotional Role in 'Monster' Meant Even More as a Parent (Exclusive)

Hudson and Jeffrey Wright's new movie, 'Monster,' will be released May 7 on Netflix.

Jennifer Hudson's latest role was unlike any other.

The Oscar winner and Jeffrey Wright star in Monster. The two play the parents of Steve Harmon (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a 17-year-old high school honor student who is arrested and jailed after a fatal robbery. The drama follows the young boy's journey from a smart, likable film student from Harlem attending an elite high school through a complex legal battle that could leave him spending the rest of his life in prison.

"Who wants to imagine that let alone live it?" Hudson tells ET's Rachel Smith about the movie's plot. "To know just how real those things are, it's kind of chilling. It's scary, especially as a parent."

Hudson is a mom to 11-year-old son David, making the storyline even more personal for her amid the Black Lives Matter movement and the social injustice going on in the world.

"When you are family like the Harmons and you have a child that could not be walking a better path, and you still can't protect them and they still end up in those types of scenarios and situations. It leaves a parent like, 'Oh my god, what can you do?'" Hudson explains. "What do you do when you've already done what you're supposed to as a parent and your child has done what they're supposed to as a child? It's scary."

For Wright, the Batman star also relates to the film as a father to son Elijah and daughter Juno. He knows the importance of talking to his children about tough subjects like race and injustice.

"Those are very difficult conversations and endless conversations that cover a range of topics, drivers, challenges, societal deficiencies, societal strengths, and I think the film raises a lot of these issues in a really timely way," the actor notes. "The thing for me as the father of a teenage boy and a teenage girl is, what is raised by the film and is challenging for me, is this question of masculinity for Black men, and particularly Black boys who are discovering their masculinity and walking this path towards discovering manhood. There's many potholes and so many difficulties in the way, difficulties for so many men. But there are particular challenges around the definition of strength and the definition of power and freedom."

"Our kids are torn between a society that predetermines who they are and their own impression of themselves," Wright continues. "And just so many pressures in addition to the normal pressures of young adulthood for Black kids in this country that are compounded by race. The film explores that in a really sophisticated way."

Harrison Jr. also opens up to ET about how "tough" it was to portray Steve and how much the character reminded him of himself. He explains that the film "really mirrored" where he was at 17 years old, "just trying to discover who I was as a Black man, or as a Black young man in America specifically, and what that journey was like for me and trying to figure out just who I was as a person outside of my skin color."

The 26-year-old actor adds that he was also "trying to process the privileges and the opportunities" that his parents "were able to afford me at the time" and "trying to process how the industry saw me at the time. The roles I was getting, and I think that is a lot of Steve’s curiosity."

"It is interesting trying to be 17 and judged for just being curious," Harrison Jr. relays. "And now he is on trial for being curious...for being whatever a young person is, just trying to figure out what it is they want to be in this life. It was eye-opening for me because at times you can think you are an anomaly and then you realize I am not different. Just because I get to go to a nice school and have nice things and have a nice house does not mean that the judicial system or the government looks at me differently. So yeah, it was crazy."

While making the film was "challenging" on his mental health at times, he was surrounded by a cast and crew that elevated him. "It is a privilege to be able to do it under these safe circumstances and to be able to educate yourself with the support of so many wonderful people," he shares.

Monster will be released on May 7 on Netflix.