“It was eye-opening to find out about a time in history that, for one reason or another, we were never taught [about] in school,” Laz Alonso says of his experience with Detroit, Kathryn Bigelow’s latest historic drama about the Algiers Motel incident during a tragic period of racially-motivated police brutality in the Michigan city. “The fact that, throughout all of our lives, this isn’t required learning—that in a city like Detroit, of all places, that economically and socially means so much to the fabric of what we feel is ‘true America…’ I think that more than anything is what really raised the bar, as far as how serious our jobs were to bring this story to life.”

Joining Alonzo at a recent Awardsline screening with the magazine’s editor Joe Utichi were stars John Boyega, Will Poulter and Tyler James Williams. To hear more from the cast about their preparations for taking on the haunting ’60s drama and the “comfortable” experience of working on a Bigelow set—even in the midst of complex material—click above. Detroit will be released on DVD on Dec. 12.

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