‘Freedom’s Path’: Director Remembers Actors Thomas Jefferson Byrd & Carol Sutton Who Died During The Movie’s Post-Production

Thomas J Byrd
Thomas J Byrd

Back in October 2019, before the pandemic, we brought you news about American Civil War movie Freedom’s Path.

The feature, which charts the friendship between a Union soldier and a runaway slave who is helping facilitate the Underground Railroad, stars Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting), RJ Cyler (Me And Earl And The Dying Girl) and Gerran Howell (Catch 22). Post-production has just wrapped.

As it turned out, the project would mark the final stops on the journey of two veteran actors who died while the movie was in post-production: Thomas Jefferson Byrd, a frequent Spike Lee collaborator, and New Orleans native Carol Sutton, both of whom had supporting roles.

Both actors died in sad circumstances. Tony-nominee Byrd was murdered in Atlanta and Sutton died of complications from Covid.

Today, the production has chosen to release two images of the admired actors in their final film, marking the first official stills from the movie.

Sutton, whose fifty-year career spanned stage, movies, and TV, appeared in features including Monster’s Ball, Ray, Steel Magnolias and The Help, and in TV series Tremé, True Detective and Lovecraft Country.

Carol Sutton
Carol Sutton in Freedom’s Path Production still

Director Brett Smith said of the actress: “I was able to stay in close contact with Carol up until she went back into the hospital for the final time. In one of our last conversations, Carol said to me that Caddy [her character in the movie] had become a favorite character of hers, which truly meant the world to me. Carol’s performance as Caddy in the film mirrored her personality, warmth and spirit… unforgettable. She is a woman with an incredibly strong level of faith. A woman with a tender heart and a whole lot of love for all. A woman and a friend I will miss greatly.”

Byrd was a frequent collaborator with Spike Lee, appearing in eight of his films, including Clockers, Get On The Bus, Girl 6, He Got GameBamboozled, Red Hook SummerDa Sweet Blood Of Jesus and Chi-Raq. He also appeared in the Netflix series adaptation of Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It. Other film credits included the 1996 crime drama Set It Off as well as the Oscar-winning pic Ray.

Of Byrd, Smith commented: “From our first conversation to our last, Thomas was the same; passionate, fully dedicated and incredibly caring. He was never afraid to challenge me when he thought a moment or a scene might be improved. This gave me an incredible amount of respect for him as both an actor and a man.”

Thomas J Byrd
Thomas J Byrd in Freedom’s Path

Also supporting in Freedom’s Path are Harrison Gilbertson (Picnic At Hanging Rock), Afemo Omiliami (Poms) and Jermaine Rivers (The Gifted).

Producers are Neko Sparks, Jim Pidgeon and AJ Winslow. Executive producers include Skip Williamson (Underworld), Kerri Elder (To The Stars), Dexter Braff (Galveston), and Steven Michael Swadling.

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2021/09/thomas-jefferson-byrd-carol-sutton-remembered-freedoms-path-1234841158/