Julius Onah and the Cast of ‘Luce’ on the Identity Conversation the Movie Stimulates

     February 5, 2019

Here’s a Sundance 2019 entry you’re going to want to keep an eye on – Julius Onah‘s Luce. The movie features an exceptional performance from Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Luce, a young man who grew up in a war-torn region of Africa before being adopted by a couple (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) living in Arlington, Virginia. They create a wonderful life for Luce and he seizes the opportunity, becoming an A student and a shining symbol for the community. When one of his teachers (Octavia Spencer) gives him an assignment to write in the voice of a historical figure, Luce hands in a piece that taps into political violence in a way that persuades this teacher to search his locker.

Luce is an extremely challenging watch. Rather than offer up defined answers, Onah’s film challenges the viewer to assess stereotype, societal pressures, and the repercussions of making assumptions. It was a real treat to have Onah, Harrison Jr., Watts, Roth and also co-stars Andrea Bang and Marsha Stephanie Blake swing by the Collider Studio at Sundance because Luce is one phenomenal discussion piece. Catch the full conversation about Onah’s experience developing the movie, the ways the cast connected to their characters, and so much more in the video interview at the top of this article. There’s also a full interview breakdown below. And don’t forget; give Adam Chitwood’s review of Luce a read right here.


Image via Kia Motors

I’d also like to take a moment to give special thanks to our Collider Studio partner, the all new 2020 Kia Telluride, which was transporting filmmakers to our studio in celebration of the debut of the all new model, Kia’s first eight-passenger SUV that is several inches longer and wider than the brand’s award-winning Sorento.

Libations were also flowing at the Collider Studio with parties hosted by LIFEWTR, Tequila Comisario, Sensi Tuscany Wines, Blue Moon Belgian White and Dragonfly Coffee Roasters. Food during the parties was provided by Greene St. Kitchen of Palms Casino Resort lead by Chef Du Cuisine Lanny Chin. Brand partners active during the day included mou, a luxury footwear and accessories line, and The Wild Immersion endorsed by Jane Goodall who was on-site with the world’s first “virtual reserve.”

Julius Onah, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Andrea Bang & Marsha Stephanie Blake:

  • Onah on working on Luce for so long and what it means to share it with viewers today.
  • A brief description of what Luce is about.
  • Harrison Jr. on the questions he had for Onah before jumping into the film.
  • Watts on the generations differences we see in Luce.
  • Bang on what her character is going through in the film.
  • Blake on playing Octavia Spencer’s sister and the joy of working with her.
  • Roth on whether or not he can connect to what the characters in this movie experience.
  • Watts on being able to relate to feeling like an outsider.
  • Onah on making the move from Cloverfield Paradox to Luce.
  • Bang on experiencing her first Sundance.
  • What Onah plans to catch at Sundance 2019.
  • Harrison Jr. on making the move from It Comes At Night to Luce and beyond.

Image via Sundance Institute

Here’s the official Sundance synopsis for Luce:

It’s been ten years since Amy and Peter Edgar (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) adopted their son from war-torn Eritrea, and they thought the worst was behind them. Luce Edgar (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) has become an all-star student beloved by his community in Arlington, Virginia. His African American teacher, Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer), believes he is a symbol of black excellence that sets a positive example for his peers. But when he is assigned to write an essay in the voice of a historical twentieth-century figure, Luce turns in a paper that makes an alarming statement about political violence. Worried about how this assignment reflects upon her star pupil, Harriet searches his locker and finds something that confirms her worst fears.

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