Carmen Ejogo is an actress who can’t be pigeonholed into certain genres. She’s portrayed Coretta Scott King in Boycott and Selma, immersed herself in the Harry Potter universe portraying the head of the MACUSA in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and has had to go head to head with aliens in Alien: Covenant. Now she’ll be playing the role of Maya in the legal drama film Roman J. Israel Esq.
Screen Rant got a chance to talk with Carmen Ejogo on Press Day, where we discussed what inspired her to take on the role of Maya, how the themes of Roman J. Israel Esq. relevant to current world affairs, and whether or not the Mirror of Erised will play a part in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts movies.
SR: What inspired you to take on the role?
Carmen Ejogo: To work with Denzel was a big call. To work with Dan Gilroy, who is the writer-director. It’s always great to work with writer-directors. They have their very clear of intention. They know what they want and they usually get what they want ultimately. And I was really excited by the fact that this was a character who embodied the idea of having conviction, and having heart, and believing in other people, and understanding that interconnectedness of all of us. Those sort of themes really mattered to me right. And especially in this moment in time, in this day and age when there’s a sort of energy and, sort of an air of divisiveness around us at all times, the idea of putting something out into the world, in a movie that was sort of… Sort of a reaction to that was a positive and worthy cause.
SR: You know, speaking of the times right now, there’s a lot going on in the world today and this might inspire a bit of social responsibility or political activism. How are the themes of Roman J. Israel Esq. relevant to what’s happening in the world right now?
Carmen Ejogo: I think the themes that we explore in the movie are always relevant. I think we always have to be conscious and aware of the forces that are sort of working against the idea of people being compassionate towards one another. So, I think the film, in that sense, is timeless and will always resonate. But why it’s important at this particular moment time, you know, there are all kinds of issues that sort of illuminates whether it be the prison industrial complex that we’re it’s sort of living in America. And beyond that, I mean, just sort of just more general thematics. The idea of really believing in something that is for the good of all, and persevering in that belief and not giving up despite the fact that there can be apathy. There can be material seduction. There can be all kind of things that can pull you away from that sort of idealism, but to remain true to it is really a life worth living.
SR: I know one the biggest Harry Potter fans in the world.
Carmen Ejogo: Oh cool!
SR: She reached out to me after she knew I was interviewing you and she has a question. Does the mirror of the Erised play a part in the next Fantastic Beasts film?
Camren Ejogo: Oh, I’d be a very, very disloyal wizard if I could if I answer that. I can’t say I’m afraid.
SR: Or maybe you can answer this. What do you imagine a relationship with Percival Graves to be?
Carmen Ejogo: Goodness me. I think I’d be in big trouble with J.K. Rowling right now if I answer any of these.
SR: You know, you should a great range of ability with a lot of the roles you’ve chosen. Is there any genre that you want to tackle next?
Carmen Ejogo: I think I’m about ready for a comedy. A comedy. Yeah. [Laughs] I’ve played around with most genres at this point. I mean, I would prefer, I’d like to be better versions of some of the genre as I’ve played in. But you know, I think that’s the fun of this of this stuff and it’s getting to stretch my legs in all different directions and remain so excited about what the next surprise will be along the way.