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‘One Night in Miami’ Stars Leslie Odom, Jr. and Aldis Hodge on the Burden of Playing Iconic Figures

‘One Night in Miami’ Stars Leslie Odom, Jr. and Aldis Hodge on the Burden of Playing Iconic Figures

Leslie Odom, Jr. has won a Grammy and a Tony award for “Hamilton” but he continues to expand and sharpen his abilities as an actor, musician and performer. Portraying Sam Cooke in Regina King’s “One Night in Miami,” the 39-year-old artist delivers one of this strongest turns yet, playing double-duty as not just an actor, but as a singer-songwriter.

In this week’s Variety Awards Circuit podcast, the 39-year-old artist discusses the monumental task of taking on the legendary Sam Cooke. “My number got pulled,” Odom, Jr. says. “I just didn’t want to do a wack Sam Cooke, I didn’t want to be bad, and have it wipe away any opportunity.” Listen below!

Odom, Jr. has experienced an exceptional year, having also starred in the stage filming of Thomas Kail’s “Hamilton,” which debuted on Disney Plus over the summer. For his work in Amazon Studios’ “One Night in Miami,” he has received an abundance of love and high praise for his performance, which has landed him in the thick of a very competitive Oscar race. Very respectful and gracious about his success, Odom, Jr. is learning more about the film industry. With under a dozen film credits to his name, his passion nevertheless bleeds from his words.

“The first job of the director is to get everybody in the same mood,” Odom says about first-time director Regina King. “Every single note she gave me, every single thought she gave me, made me better.”

On top of his acting work, Odom, Jr. also a writer on the song “Speak Now,” for which he can also receive an Oscar nomination. He would be following in the footsteps of Mary J. Blige and Cynthia Erivo as acting nominees who were also cited in original song.

Also in this episode: Aldis Hodge came into the year delivering outstanding work in the horror film “The Invisible Man” and then took up the task of playing Jim Brown, the only living figure from “One Night in Miami.” He tells the Variety Awards Circuit podcast that  initially turned down the chances to audition because he didn’t feel was adequately equipped to do. “My team told me that Regina wants to see you and I’m not going to be the fool who tells Regina ‘No,” Hodge says.

Hodge gained notoriety in 2019 for his incredible performance in “Clemency” opposite Alfre Woodard, for which he received a nomination from the Gotham Awards. Earlier this year, he delivered opposite Elisabeth Moss in the horror hit “The Invisible Man,” stretching out his abilities in different genres.

From discussing his early years acting, Hodge discusses some of the films that inspired his upbringing in the acting space including “Devin in a Blue Dress” with Don Cheadle and “Leon: The Professional” with Natalie Portman. He also speaks to the future generations in the entertainment space, “don’t let anyone tell you that you’re lucky to be here. I earned this spot.”

Both Leslie Odom Jr and Aldis Hodge will campaign in best supporting actor for the upcoming Academy Awards for their stunning performances.

“Variety Awards Circuit Podcast,” hosted by Clayton Davis, Jenelle Riley, Jazz Tangcay and Michael Schneider (who produces), is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every Thursday.

[Photo: Aldis Hodge and Leslie Odom Jr. at the 2019 Princess Grace Awards.]

Written by Oli Coleman

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