If you ever heard Bryan Stevenson speak, he stirs emotions. He delivers difficult-to-hear harsh truths but manages to line each word with a thread of hope — and his sentiment, although delivered with a mild-mannered even-handedness, is assertive and motivates change. A lawyer, activist and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson’s book Just Mercy is a vessel for his story of prison reform and will make its way to theaters with the talented Destin Daniel Cretton in the director’s chair. The pair joined the New Hollywood Podcast for a live recording at the Toronto Film Festival to talk about the film and shed an urgent light on the need for prison reform and how inclusive storytelling in Hollywood can inspire change in real life.
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Set in Alabama, the Warner Bros drama follows the true story of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who is put on death row for murder despite evidence proving his innocence. Defense attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) travels to the Deep South in an effort to appeal McMillian’s murder conviction and, in turn, sees the birth of the Equal Justice Initiative, which gives legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted.
Stevenson speaks the truth about the need for prison reform, how he hopes Just Mercy is contributing to the cause, and why Cretton was the best director for the job. Cretton talks about his connection to the story and how Hollywood is a changing landscape when it comes to diversity.
Listen to the episode below.
Just Mercy will open in limited release December 25 and will expand wider in January.
Deadline’s live New Hollywood Podcast Panel and Cocktails at TIFF 2019 is sponsored by Fig & Olive and Inkbox. Special thanks to our partners Love Child Social House, Calii Love, Bulleit Bourbon, Ketel One Botanical and Tanqueray No. Ten.
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