Michael Ealy has been doing his thing for a while now, and is one of the most versatile actors that we know. This type of versatility is simply unmatched and rarely seen. A lot of actors deal with being typecast and honestly, we become quickly jaded with what seems like the same role in different films, but not with Ealy. We have watched his films, TV shows, and not only have we swooned over his “fineness” for years, but his acting skills are second to absolutely, no one. Who could actually play a sociopath where you are asking yourself, if you would still risk it all, meaning everything because it’s Ealy? For the ladies reading this, don’t act like you weren’t looking at his fine self the entire time, throughout the movie The Perfect Guy, thinking the same thing. His role did kind of freak us out, but those pretty eyes made up for it.
Ealy is just as charming, charismatic, witty, and a joy to be around, as he appears to be on screen. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with him, the laughs, the chat, and learning more about him and his journey in his acting career. He is just scratching the surface, and this star has so much more to give to the world, and we are here to support it all.
If you aren’t an Ealy fan, then you totally can’t sit with us! We had an exclusive opportunity to sit down and chat with the one and only, Michael Ealy about his new upcoming movie, The Intruder which comes out nationwide in theaters on May 3rd, so be sure to grab your beau or your girlfriends and get ready to be on edge of your seat, during this amazing thriller.
MillBuzz: Tell us about your new moving coming out on May 3rd, called The Intruder.
Ealy: It’s a thriller, whereby this couple, played by Megan Good and myself are trying to pursue the American dream, trying to buy our first house and start our family as newlyweds, and that American dream turns into a nightmare, it really does. It turns into a nightmare.
MillBuzz: Your chemistry on camera with Megan Good was amazing, so how was it playing alongside her?
Ealy: Well I guess if it came out good on screen, it was all worth it, right? The good thing about Megan and I working in the same movies before is that, we got to know each other. Even though we didn’t have any scenes together in those pieces, we got to know each other, and we did press tours for both movies, and we really spoke a lot during those press tours and got to know each other. So, by the time we got into this movie, it was almost like we had worked together, like we had known each other, and so the foundation was there. We were able to jump right into Scott and Annie. We didn’t have to spend time like so, how are your kids? Do you have a pet? We didn’t have to ask any of those questions. We got right into Scott and Annie, and we really worked hard to try to make them a real couple. There’re flaws there’s issues there. In the trailer, it looks like martial bliss. Everybody starts out that way, you know what I mean. Relationships are interesting. It’s work. We tried to do that. In fact, the scene where we actually get into it, we were kind of adding some of that stuff about therapy, and making sure that it was rooted in reality, and stuff that people are really struggling with in their relationships. And, I think it really holds well in the film.
MillBuzz: Let’s backtrack a little bit, we enjoyed seeing your role in The Intruder, but contrary to your role in The Perfect Guy, it’s as if you switched places. How was it preparing for both roles, and how was it playing the exact opposite?
Ealy: Good question. I think for me The Perfect Guy was a chance for me to break the mold that I had established prior to that, which was the romantic comedy guy. So, then I wanted to the break the mold by doing The Perfect Guy, and when I did The Perfect Guy, I think I shook it. Everybody thinks I want to kill people. Even when I did Being Mary Jane, people were like, you better not kill my girl. I’m not, she’s the lead of the show, I’m not going to kill her. Different character. So now I have that reputation, so in this one, it’s kind of like a throwback to me going back to my somewhat heroic roots, trying to be somewhat of the moral compass of this piece, but at the same time, what I love about Scott is, he’s kind of the anti-hero, he can’t fight. He can’t fix a light bulb. He’s kind of like one of these new men that exist out here, that can’t work with their hands much. He’s like yeah, just get somebody to do that, pay somebody to come do that. So, we are losing a lot of those men, and I think that is one of the things that Deon really wanted me to embody, was not being “Ealy” in this movie. Not being heroic and kind of being a regular guy and seeing where we end up in the end. And it was fun to play that guy because he was a bit more snarky, and he’s nothing like me, which was great.
MillBuzz: Is that part of the appeal of the character, because he is nothing like you?
Ealy: Yes, I didn’t say that. Part of the appeal of taking this character was because it put me on the opposite end of the spectrum this time, so instead of embracing the sociopath, I’m fighting against the sociopath. Especially to protect my wife, and I think when you see the film, you realize, if you don’t want to protect Megan, you have no heart. She is about the sweetest that you can imagine. It was fun. It was a big appeal for me to kind of go to the opposite, and to do it opposite of Dennis Quaid, an iconic American actor who I knew I could come in and learn something from. That was a big draw for me.
MillBuzz: Your character Scott had a really strong way that he felt about the experience with losing his brother to gun violence, and you and Charlie are opposites in every way, and in that way. Charlie had tons of guns and you were against having guns on your property. In our society, as it relates to people of color, is that how you feel? Do you relate more with Charlie or Scott?
Ealy: An intricate question requires an intricate answer. One of my favorite moments of the movie is that moment when Charlies says to me, you don’t need an alarm system, you need a gun. There’s a prevailing theory in this country, that guns are always the answer, yet when a bunch of Muslims were gunned down in New Zealand, no one said they should have had guns. There’s hypocrisy in that. In my opinion, I don’t believe that they are the answer. I’m not as extreme as Scott is about guns. But I also have dealt with the same level of posttraumatic stress that Scott has dealt with. Now I did have a cousin who was killed by gun violence at the age of 30, and it rocked my world. But it hasn’t led me to the same level of posttraumatic stress that the character Scott is portraying in this film. Scott’s PTSD is deeply rooted in loosing his brother. I think everything about Charlie represents his true disdain for what these things can do to someone’s life. I think that as far as that argument, it requires a much deeper dive than a surface level interview. The gun debate, it needs to be a longer debate, it needs to be a more in-depth debate. It’s kind of like the whole thing with Nipsey, people are like well should he still have been living in the hood? What killed Nipsey Hustle is so much deeper than where just you live. Its systematic issues that are facing different communities throughout the world. That needs to be addressed. We can’t just talk about it in superficial terms, like a brother’s got to move out, go to a gated community. We get shot there too. I don’t look at it like that. In terms of the movie, I don’t think it’s a statement per se about gun control, but I do think it causes one to ask the question. Obviously, it triggered something in you and I think it will trigger a conversation about it. Hopefully it will trigger a much deeper conversation about it.
MillBuzz: You’ve been in a lot of great movies. So which film or films really stretched you as an actor, that has challenged you or made you uncomfortable, because it’s said that when we become uncomfortable is when we grow?
Ealy: It’s true. Sleeper Cell, The Perfect Guy, actually The Perfect Guy, yes but the following even more. To embrace a serial killer, it’s a little bit different, you know what I mean? Than being a guy who is just crazy about a girl. To embrace someone who has a lust for death, took me to a place of darkness that I didn’t know I could go to, and that was the challenge, and man was it fun! I don’t know if that means if I have some therapy to go to. I don’t have any desire to kill people at all. I have a healthy concept of fear and don’t want to do it. But it was nice to kind of live in his shoes, and just the powerfulness. There’s a lot of power to be able to take someone’s life without hesitation just because you can. It’s not normal. It’s not how I grew up. It’s no compassion. And to actually get off on it, it’s sexual to you to actually take someone’s life. That was a dark, dark place. And apparently that worked, and I’m shocked at how many people actually liked that character. It was fun and disturbing and at the same time. I also had conflicts with it. Because I didn’t feel wonderful about putting that imagery out there. And that’s one of the hardest things about what I do, is sometimes like with For Colored Girls, that imagery is really bad. And you have to ask yourself, at what cost are you doing this, and why are you doing this, and again, trying to show what war can do to a normal healthy human being. Sometimes you got to make that leap and hope that people are intelligent and strong enough to kind of understand. I wish we could have shown who he was before, but it wasn’t his play. It’s a play about the women, so anyway you have this character, and the real good ones who will stretch you are the ones who will compromise your integrity and tend to compromise your personal beliefs. I definitely have gone there a couple of times. Those are pretty much the roles that I can think of offhand that have kind of made me go there.
MillBuzz: Have you’ve ever had to go and receive therapy after playing a certain role or just to get stuff out after, because it evoked some type of emotion?
Ealy: I’m an advocate of therapy for everyone. I don’t care what anyone says. I go to therapy as a husband and father. I go to therapy as an actor. Yeah, it’s been one of the most helpful things that have helped to cope with the ups and downs of not only the industry but life in general. There was a time when I was doing Sleeper Cell, second season and I was feeling real heroic. I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, I think I said it once. I saw a girl get her purse taken outside a gym in Los Angeles, and the guys got in the car and drove off quick. And I got in the car and chased them. I’m not a cop. I just played an FBI agent on TV. I chased them for about five minutes before I realized what am I doing? Stop it. They are criminals, you are not a hero. Take your ass back to the gym. This is not a scene. What are you doing? I laughed about it. And was like I think I need to go get some help. Clearly, I went too far, and it could have cost me my life. There’s a way to get caught up in the characters. Also, there is a time of detox. Therapy is good, but there’s a time of detox. Typically for characters that take you there, like The Following and The Perfect Guy, I’ll come off that, and even when I did Jacob’s Ladder, hopefully that will be out later this year, movies like that, projects like that when you go to a darker place, you tend to need to go be by yourself for a while. Whether that be the desert, the beach, the woods, and kind of tap out and not take that energy to your family and your kids and so that you can go back to being normal and transition back to reality.
MillBuzz: The D.C. area is home for you. What do you miss the most about D.C.?
Ealy: Old Bay. It’s the first thing that came to mind. There’s a restaurant in my neighborhood, the nostalgia of them, I went in and got a chicken sandwich and some fries, and they put Old Bay on their fries and I was so excited and happy because I had forgotten about it. Now there is Old Bay in my house. I forgot where I come from you can put this on anything. So, it’s in the eggs, it’s in the fries, so I think that was the first time where I was like I really miss home. But to answer your question what do I really miss the most? This is a great place to grow up, I don’t know if it still is. The thing I probably miss most is seeing middle to upper class black folks, a lot of them…a lot of them. It’s kind of like Atlanta in that way. It was an emphasis on education here, I don’t know if it still exists, but when I was growing up, because there’s a bunch of universities here. But when I was growing up, everybody was talking about their education. Everybody cared about their education. But where I am now it’s not an emphasis on education, unless you’re trying to you know, slide them in, so there’s an emphasis on getting your kids in school. But the kids itself, maybe it’s this new generation and they don’t care that much, but we grew up with a desire to be educated and I miss that.
MillBuzz: Being Mary Jane is coming back this week on BET and you mentioned Jacob’s Ladder, so are there any other projects that we can look forward to seeing from you?
Ealy: Yes. The director of The Intruder is Deon Taylor, and I just did another movie with him in the Fall called Fatale, and that’s another thriller actually. This is me and Hillary Swank and Mike Colter and this one is beautiful, it’s a noire thriller. I just saw some footage from it the other day. Hillary is incredible to work with.
MillBuzz: A lot of people do look to you for inspiration and they get discouraged in their careers. What is one obstacle that you’ve overcome that you’re like once I did that I can do anything?
Ealy: I think the whole light skin, dark skin thing. I don’t subscribe to that. It annoys me to no end when people talk about the differences between dark skin blacks and light skin blacks. It perpetuates a stigma that is actually prevalent around the world. Dark skin Indians, light skin Indians, Asians, Africans, everybody. It’s really so sad because it’s 2019 and we are still kind of dealing with this. One of the things that I have dealt with is colorism in terms of not being considered black enough, and some people think I have it made because I have blue eyes, and I’m like yeah well, it has hurt me to a certain extent because sometimes there’s a desire to see someone who is quote unquote really black, and I’m like well what would make me more black? Now you have to redefine what is black. It’s like if I’ve been pulled over by the police and thrown out of the car, am I qualified now? I’ve had my share of that growing up here. So, do I have to be thrown on a cop car to understand what it’s like? Or is it just a knowledge of your history because I got that here too? If you understand the history of our people, then you can understand that we all, and I’m not denying that light skin blacks have definitely benefited from some preferential treatment, but it doesn’t stop some of the discrimination. You can still catch hell and at the same time as much as I may have gotten a role because I look easier to make the transition for white folks to see me and see it’s easier to make that transition, I’ve also lost out on some roles because I wasn’t Idris. I wasn’t dark enough, I didn’t identify as black on camera and it’s like let’s talk about that because Malcolm was lighter than me. You ever question his blackness? Ever, ever… ever? No, no, never, ever. If you did you got dealt with. So, in that sense, I think the same thing holds true for other cultures, Indian Middle Eastern, it doesn’t matter. The lighter darker thing has been perpetuated by most white people, and you have to say, look we are done with this because that’s a way to divide and conquer. And so that’s the thing I’ve probably had to deal with the most, with trying to overcome, and I still have to fight that battle, like last week. Yeah, It’s still going on.
You don’t want to miss this thriller!
On May 3rd be sure to check out The Intruder in theaters nationwide.