Amid awards season buzz,Man About Towncatches up with the young Canadian actor who stayed in character as Cassius Clay for two whole months while shooting Regina King’s award-winning film,One Night in Miami.
Eli Goree is still shadowboxing and dropping his r’s from time to time. It’s been a year since he wrapped shooting onOne Night in Miamiwith director Regina King. Goree plays boxing icon Cassius Clay with startling accuracy alongside Leslie Odom Jr’s singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, Aldis Hodge as football superstar Jim Brown and Kingsley Ben-Adir as human rights activist Malcolm X.
Based on Kemp Powers’ play of the same name, the film examines four men at the height of their professions who all find themselves at their own unique crossroads. While the conversations are fictional, the four icons were friends and did spend the night together in Miami celebrating Clay’s world heavyweight title. Days after that night together all of their lives would take new directions.
Goree says of the film: “It was exciting, obviously being very strongly connected to civil rights, but the most important thing for me in this role was honouring the legacy of these guys. They gave so much so that I could be where I’m at doing what I am doing now — literally. So many other people have been inspired by what these men did and not just Black people.
“People around the world — Muslims around the world — talk about Malcolm X. Everyone around the world talks about Muhammed Ali, everywhere I go from London to Brazil people say, “I grew up watching him and he inspired me to be the first person in my family to go to college or to overcome when I got out of prison. The fact that he was willing to go to jail made me feel like I didn’t have to be ashamed.” There’s just so many stories that I’ve heard from people about how he’s affected their lives. For me I really wanted to do justice to that and honour that legacy.
Garnering critical praise,One Night in Miamiis generating Oscar buzz with Goree’s performance a standout. The Halifax-born actor has steadily worked his way up in the industry landing roles in teen superhitRiverdaleand HBO’sBallers. In his latest role as Clay, Goree’s dedication and ability to fully inhabit a character is on full display. We caught up with the rising star after a run in the hills above sunny Pasadena to talk about the meaning of work, Ali’s legacy, and his cryptotrader dream role.
To read the full interview, pre-order theMan About Town SS21issue here.
Man About Town: 2021, Chapter I, pre-order now. orders ship in the Spring of 2021
Photography: Ian Markell Styling: Aly Cooper Grooming: Rachel Burney at the Wall Group Hair: Brian Goose Davis Words: Hans Aschim Editor: Mike Christensen Editorial Director: Huw Gwyther