Jharrel Jerome On Playing 13-ft-tall Man In 'I'm A Virgo': Cootie A Symbol For Black Plight In US - Eastern Mirror
Friday, June 21, 2024
Arts and Entertainment

Jharrel Jerome on playing 13-ft-tall man in ‘I’m a Virgo’: Cootie a symbol for Black plight in US

By PTI Updated: Jun 23, 2023 7:10 pm

NEW DELHI — Hollywood star Jharrel Jerome believes his “I’m a Virgo” character of Cootie, a 13-feet-tall man growing up in Oakland, California, represents the reality of society in America where the Black community is often viewed as a threat.

The Prime Video show is created by Boots Riley, the alternative hip hop artiste and activist, who made his directorial debut with 2018’s absurdist comedy “Sorry to Bother You”.

Described as a darkly comedic fantastical coming-of-age joyride, the show is about the gentle giant Cootie, who is raised in solitary by his uncle and aunt due to his enormous size but later escapes from there to experience the beauty and contradictions of the real world.

“As a man in the five-feet category, I felt great to be that big, to be 13 feet tall. And I am not into horoscopes. I am not tall and I am not a Virgo. So I don’t know why I did this project, but here I am,” Jerome, known for starring in Oscar-winning movie “Moonlight” and acclaimed Netflix series “When They See Us”, told PTI in a virtual interview.

The 25-year-old actor said the show is a symbol for any Black man trying to create an identity and space in America who is mistaken due to his appearance.

“As a Black man in America stepping outside, you already feel different. You feel as though you may not fit in and the certain areas that you cannot go to or you feel like you are not allowed to be in. And Cootie feels that everywhere. So I feel that he is this large symbol for the Black plight in America,” he said.

At the same time, Cootie is also a symbol of “carrying a good heart”, Jerome added.

The word ‘Virgo’ in the title refers to the character’s astrological symbol and the reason for the optimistic nature of Cootie despite the dangers that he may encounter in the outside world.

“Cootie is a genuine soft spoken soul but the second he walks outside someone might see him as a monster. Someone might consider him a villain or a beast.

“He really is just a gentle giant and I think that is very relatable for a lot of Black men in the country who have heart and have a great intention but are continuously pushed and weighed down by the system and thus turned into the villain,” the actor said.

Jerome said his first reaction when Riley reached out to him for the show was of disbelief.

“I was like ‘What? What are you talking about?’ (But) the creativeness and the fresh perspective of storytelling that Boots created with this story excited me so much. On top of it, the challenge of it being such a technical process, with the way we shot the first perspective,” he added.

“I’m a Virgo” is yet another interesting project in the filmography of Jerome, who is emerging as one of the rising artists in the US.

He played a pivotal role in Barry Jenkins’ 2016 Oscar-winning movie “Moonlight” and then starred in Ava DuVernay’s series “When They See Us”.

His performance as Korey Wise, one of the five members wrongly accused of rape, had earned him an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a limited series or movie.

Jerome said he has learnt a lot from working with “visionary” storytellers like Duvernay, Jenkins and Riley as well as Steven Soderbergh, the director of his upcoming miniseries “Full Circle”.

“These directors are incredibly militant with their craft and incredibly visionary. They can see the vision and they know how to execute it. I think just being on the set with creatives like that drives you, it pushes you and it teaches you a lot.

“It teaches you professionalism, it teaches you hard work and to remain driven. It also teaches you how to come together with different creatives and createsomething special,” he added.

“I’m A Virgo” also stars Kara Young, Allius Barnes, Olivia Washington, Mike Epps and Carmen Ejogo. Co-produced by Amazon Studios and Media Res Studio, the series started streaming on Prime Video from Friday.

By PTI Updated: Jun 23, 2023 7:10:36 pm
Website Design and Website Development by TIS