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November 14, 2017

Mary J. Blige and Cary Mulligan on the Timeliness of ‘Mudbound’

Set in the 1940s Mississippi, Mudbound still feels just as timely as ever – tackling such hot button issues as racism, sexism & veteran affairs. Two families – one white, the other black – struggle to make a living in the muddy temperamental farmlands of Mississippi. Mary J. Blige & Carey Mulligan star as the two matriarchs of their respective families: Mulligan as Laura McAllan – a sheltered housewife who comes into her own on the land, and Blige as Florence Jackson – a steely-eyed, proud woman forced to humble herself in the racist South. The film is filled with subtle, underhanded performances – where a long pause and an icy stare say more than a monologue ever could.

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Image via Netflix

Blige is nearly unrecognizable in the film, hiding behind black sunglasses and a large straw hat. It’s shrewd casting – there’s something unnerving about seeing a superstar of Blige’s status forced to tolerate the racist ramblings of an ignorant old white man (played well here by Jonathan Banks). It adds an extra meta-textual layer to the film – and Blige more than holds her own against more polished actors like Mulligan & Banks.

In the following interview with Carey Mulligan & Mary J. Blige, the duo discusses how Mudbound reflects current events, shaping the look of their characters and whether Blige will continue to pursue dramatic acting. For the full interview, watch above.

Here’s a list of what was discussed:

  • When did Dee Rees first approach Mulligan & Blige on starring in Mudbound?
  • What was Blige’s reaction to be asked to play such a dramatic role?
  • What did Mulligan  & Blige draw from to relate to the experience of living in the 1940s?
  • Was there a sense of a cultural shift when filming pre-election in the Deep South?
  • How involved were the duo in coming up with the look of their characters?
  • How did the muddy-environment & weather effect their performance?
  • Does Blige see herself continuing to pursue dramatic roles?
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