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.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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