**Interview may contain spoilers**
Actor/writer/director Tosin Morohunfola is quickly becoming a powerful presence within the entertainment world with recurring roles in the CW’s series, Black Lightning, and the Showtime series, The Chi as well as directing a social justice police thriller called, On Sight. Recently, Tosin can be seen in the psychological thriller BLACK BOX as part of the “Welcome to the Blumhouse” series presented by Amazon Prime Video and Blumhouse. For the release of the film, I had the opportunity to chat with Tosin where he discussed everything from his character, the devasting effects of amnesia, and what he hopes people take away from.
In BLACK BOX, from Director Emmanueul Osei-Kuffour, after losing his wife and his memory in a car accident, a single father (Mamoudou Athie) undergoes an agonizing experimental treatment that causes him to question who he really is.
Hello Tosin, thank you so much for speaking with me today about BLACK BOX. What can you tell us about your character in this film?
Tosin Morohunfola: I play Dr. Gary and I am the best friend of the main character Nolan, played by Mamoudou Athie, and I offer him support, I’m a shoulder he can lean on. Nolan is going through a really terrible loss of memory because of an accident he was in and he’s kind of forgotten who he is, he’s lost his identity. The only ones there to help him kind of try to piece back together who he is and who he was are his daughter, played by Amanda Christine, and myself. I also suggest that he take an experiment procedure with our head research doctor, who’s played by Phylicia Rashad so that he can get some of his memories back. So really I’m just here to help them and when things get a little bit mysterious later on, I’m here to help try to solve interesting missing questions with him.
Was there any type of research that Director Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour gave to help get you into the mindset of Dr. Gary in terms of understanding amnesia or repressed memories?
Tosin Morohunfola: Yeah, actually, there were small things and big things. We just talked, generally speaking, about the psychology of it and what that’s like. There’s a lot to investigate in terms of how one exists in the world without their memories and what kind of a burden that puts on that person’s friends, the stress that they wear. Also, we got into some of the nuances of the medical stuff. My dad’s a doctor and my brother’s a nurse practitioner, so I have medical people in my family. We made sure that just like on a technical level in the script, we were using the right kind of brain scan and stuff like that. [Emmanual] already knew what he was doing, so I just kind of assist in that area, but yeah, that’s what we focused on. We also made it clear that storywise one of the juxtaposition between these two men, which is that where Nolan is more than a little out of sorts, he doesn’t know who he is, he dresses a little bit more poorly and he’s a little bit more confused, to contrast that, I’m very put together and I’m very self-confident and assured. So we talked archetypally a lot about the difference between what these characters represented and the disarray that happens in somebody’s life when their memories are gone; the dishevelled that happens.
In-between all that is happening with Nolan there is also his young daughter, Ava, who essentially takes care of him 24/7. You and she have this Uncle/Niece relationship which is really heartwarming to see on screen. Can you talk about your experience working with Amanda Christine?
Tosin Morohunfola: It was really great because right off the bat we had some chemistry in terms of like, she was cool, she’s a mature kid. It helps because I didn’t feel like I was talking to a kid and she’s very talented on top of all of that. We kind of immediately fell into our Uncle/Niece kind of groove, I was just really impressed. It’s such a crazy thing to work with kids even crazier when they’re that good. We bonded, she killed it…she’s not the main character but this is her movie, you know what I mean? All eyes are going to be on here.
There’s a lot to take away from this film from the relationship you have with Nolan as well as the guilt of suggesting he do the experimental treatment. Speaking of which, that actually made me think that you didn’t have his best interests at heart, initially. That said, what do you hope viewers take away from your character?
Tosin Morohunfola: First of all, to comment on that, I actually forgot that there is a bit of a misdirect [in the film with my character]. As an actor, I just play the truth of the scene and play the truth of my intent and it really is just to support [Nolan]. That’s really what I want, I want the best for my friend even if he doesn’t know what that is. I can understand how that could appear a little deceptive, you know? I think the thing that I hope people walk away with from this film is, on a conscious level, I hope they spend some time with the themes in the movie: what are you when you are without memories? Like, what is your identity? What is your identity without your history? I think that’s a complicated question that is kind of heartbreaking to think about when you think of Alzheimer’s and other memory loss conditions. It’s a very sad thing to watch and it’s something to be grateful for while you have it, that you can just reflect on that rather than having to undergo it yourself. On a subconscious level, I am just excited that there is a very Black almost African psychological thriller that’s been made and doesn’t really centralize or cater to white people so much as it just tells a really great story. It reminds us that this genre, just like any other genre, belongs to everyone. I think if I was gonna add one other thing, I’d also say that even though it’s difficult to know who you are, what your identity is, your history, you are still more than your history. You are more than what you’ve done in the past and I think that that’s pretty important.
BLACK BOX is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. For more on the film, check out our review here.