Q&A: ‘Twelve Angry Men’ demands innocent until proven guilty at Ford’s

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WTOP’s Jason Fraley previews ’12 Angry Men’ at Ford’s

Jason Fraley

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WASHINGTON — In 1957, “12 Angry Men” gave Henry Fonda an iconic role and Sidney Lumet his directorial debut in one of Hollywood’s most revered movies, ranked by experts among the American Film Institute’s Top 100 movies and by fans as No. 5 all time in the IMDB poll.

Its one-room setting makes it perfect for the stage at Ford’s Theatre now through Feb. 17.

“It’s a classic,” actor Erik King told WTOP. “I’ve seen it a number of times, but with [director] Sheldon Epps’ wonderful shepherding of the piece, it’s a different piece. Personally, I think it’s more dynamic than the film because the film is cinematic and we have a multiracial cast.”

Based on the 1954 teleplay by Reginald Rose, the plot follows the heated deliberation of eight jurors weighing the evidence in the case of a 16-year-old boy accused of murdering his father.

“We are all in the jury room trying to decide the fate of a young defendant,” co-star Michael Russotto told WTOP. “In our production, half of the cast is black and half of the cast is white, which is fascinating because there’s hardly any changes made to the script at all. The script takes on some really interesting new tones even though none of the words have changed.”

Russotto plays the bullheaded Juror No. 3, who’s leading the charge toward a guilty verdict.

“From the way the case is presented, the evidence makes him appear guilty,” Russotto said.

“Oh do you?” King replied, in character.

King plays Juror No. 8, the loan holdout suggesting that there might be reasonable doubt.

“For Juror No. 8 it’s not whether or not he’s guilty or not, it’s just about the opportunity to hear the case and to take a look at the evidence,” King said. “I think this kid deserves a fair shake. There’s something about the idea that this kid may have killed his father and the fact that he is so young, he just deserves a chance. That’s all I’m asking them, just to have a conversation.”

The conversation involves issues of race and class reflected in the formal vs. casual wardrobe.

“There are some biases,” King said. “There’s the argument that he’s guilty, it’s clear that he’s guilty, and I say, ‘Based on what? Based on who he is? Or based on what happened?’ … We have a juror who has …read more

Source:: Wtop – Entertainment

      

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