Storied “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas waited 20 years to get “Red Tails” done and earlier this year, the finished product hit screens. The film about the heroic Tuskegee Airmen, the black fighting squadron that served in WWII and helped desegregate the military, was a modest success due mostly to the support it received from black audiences who wanted to honor their history.
For anyone who missed it in theaters, or who wants to own it, “Red Tails” is now available on DVD. Starring Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr., “Red Tails” is a dramatic retelling of the Tuskegee saga complete with Lucas-supervised special effects and an interracial love story.
We caught up with Elijah Kelley, the 25-year-old Georgia native best known for his role as Seaweed in “Hairspray” who played Samuel “Joker” George in “Red Tails.” We asked him about what it was like making the movie and what he’s up to now.
BlackAmericaWeb: Hey Elijah…what’s up with you?
Elijah Kelley: I’m incredible, just in New York right now getting rained on.
It couldn’t have been worse than the months you spent training in the Czech Republic for “Red Tails.” (Laughs) That was an effortless transition. That was smooth right there. I still owe George Lucas, Anthony Hemingway [director] and Rick McCallum [producer] a chokehold for all we went through. The process was just ridiculous. We would wake up in the middle of the night to simulated M-16 sounds going on and take nine mile hikes in the middle of the night. We’re actors. We get manicures and facials. It’s not supposed to be like this. Where’s my trailer? The funny thing was since it was a war movie, everybody got ripped. I looked like a little Arnold Schwarzenegger. Everybody got ripped but the only person who got to take their shirt off was David [Oyelowo]. Everyone was mad at him.
How did all that training show up in the movie?
You can’t go through that without becoming close. We shed blood together; we cried together, it was poetic how it came about. We had a connection. If I had to do it again to get the same results, I’d do it.
How did you feel about the responsibility of representing the real Tuskegee Airmen?
The responsibility is filled with carrying the legacy and continuing to educate those who’ve never heard of them. It’s the saddest thing is that no one realized until now how important these guys are. They were on set a lot of time and we would go over there and we’d ask them the things that they would do and if it wasn’t right, they would check us then and there. They’d pull our pants up, they’d tuck in our shirts, they were like the strongest 91-year-old dudes you’d ever meet. Seeing them every day was just motivating. You really had a responsibility to honor these guys because they’re still here.
We went to the White House to see the movie and watching them watch the movie was so great because those were the survivors of that era. They lived through that war and they were still here. It was amazing.
Why do you think folks should see this film now that it’s out on DVD?
Just because you’re an American, you should understand the contributions of these men. They are pioneers and heroes. The confident, adamantly intelligent black men that we have today in our generation could not have done it without them. It’s a good film, the action is incredible and once the DVD comes out hopefully “Red Tails,” will be that and go on. We’re opening in theaters internationally in June and we want to solidify it as an American classic.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
1 of 31
2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
2 of 31
3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
3 of 31
4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
4 of 31
5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
5 of 31
6 of 31
7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
7 of 31
8 of 31
9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
9 of 31
10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
10 of 31
11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
11 of 31
12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
12 of 31
13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
13 of 31
14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
14 of 31
15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
15 of 31
16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
16 of 31
17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
17 of 31
18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
18 of 31
19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
19 of 31
20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
20 of 31
21. Bae #retailtherapy
21 of 31
22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
22 of 31
23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
23 of 31
24. Diggy Simmons
24 of 31
25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
25 of 31
26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
26 of 31
27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
27 of 31
28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
28 of 31
29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
29 of 31
30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
30 of 31
31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
31 of 31