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Interview with Keith David of "Greenleaf"
on OWN 10/31/18
I really enjoyed talking to Keith
David, who's such a legendary character actor and voice-over
actor. He's been in so many great things, and now he's
really doing well in the wonderful role of the bishop in "Greenleaf." Unfortunately, he
was on his cell here, in his car, so the sound quality was
not great. If you listen to
the recording, you will know
what I mean. Here's the transcript of the conversation,
though! I hope you enjoy it.
Suzanne: Happy Halloween.
Keith: Happy Halloween.
Suzanne: Do you have anything
planned for today, Halloween-wise? Are you just working, or
Keith: Well, my wife likes to make chili on
Halloween, so we're gonna have some chili.
Good. That sounds good.
Keith: Oh, it is, it's very
Suzanne: Good. Now you've had an amazing
career. Do you still have to audition, or do they just say,
"I want Keith David"?
Keith: Well, sometimes, we have
both situations happen. I'll tell you like someone told me
once, "Auditioning, that's what we do."
Right, right. Whatever comes out of that is extra, right?
Keith: It's just an opportunity to get a job, a chance
to get a job.
Suzanne: Yeah, that makes sense. Now
your roles span from "Mr. Rogers" to "Night School." Do you
have a favorite TV show or movie role that you've had?
Suzanne: "Greenleaf." I can
imagine. Yeah, it's a great role you. For anybody, really.
Keith: I'm having a wonderful time.
Good, good, good. Sorry to make you yell. Did you say you're
Keith: I am driving.
okay. So which role do you most get recognized for when
you're out and about?
Keith: Right now, I have a lot
of "Greenleaf" fans, so a lot of people ask me about "Greenleaf"
Suzanne: Right. Do they call out,
Keith: Yes, they do.
cool. So what a great character that is. All of the
characters in this show are so rich and complicated, and
they all have their own secrets. What do you think about or
what do you do to get into the mindset of the Bishop?
Keith: I read the script.
Suzanne: That's it?
Keith: The bishop is a man like anyone else. I am myself
am a father of three children. Sometimes it gets complex.
Keith: You have a complicated
personality, and a wife who has a very strong personality of
their own. Now, my wife is nothing like Lady Mae, but she
has strong personality. So like I said, I read the
script, I get the storyline, and I've been living with this
man for three or four years now, so I have an understanding.
Suzanne: Right. It's kind of like putting on another
Keith: Well, I just know him.
Did you ever know anyone like the Bishop in your life?
Keith: Many, yes. Yes, and I continue to know them. I
have several bishop friends I consult.
Keith: And I have many... As I wanted to be a
reverend myself, I have several friends who are pastors and
preachers. Sometimes a situation will come up on the script,
and I will ask them about it. How they think this could be
Suzanne: Right, that's good.
Or is there a scriptural reference because in the Bible...
The Bible is a handbook for living and there's not a
situation that any man or woman has ever been in that is not
addressed in the Bible. You can look up biblical references
for anything that happens and everything that happens. That
doesn't mean we always follow it scripturally, but as far as
the script on the TV... I look to at it because when
I'm talking to the writers (because Craig himself is an
ordained minister), so he'll know exactly what I'm talking
about and give me some references of his own.
Suzanne: Okay, that's very helpful then. And now, your
character signs divorce papers in this last episode, and
when he takes them to his wife, she asks, "Why did you sign
them?" Were you surprised when you read that in the script?
Keith: No, I'm not surprised because, you know... you
don't get married to get divorced. And, but, there are times
when there is a straw that breaks the camel's back. And many
times it's pride and ego that makes you not be able to tear
it back and you make your reverse decision. So, no I'm not
surprised. Neither one us are perfect, but things
transpired, things get said, and you can't take those back.
You can get past them, but you can't take it back.
Suzanne: Well, I think it definitely helps that they both
did things that they shouldn't have, and so they can be
Yeah. Well, you get to sing quite often in this role. Do you
have to do any extra rehearsing for the singing or just
extra recording or what?
Keith: There's extra
recording but it's not really rehearsed.
you just go in there and pretty much just do it or...
Keith: It's as much preparation as you would for any
Suzanne: OK. I watched you do some
singing on YouTube. I saw a
of you doing Nat King Cole songs. Very beautiful.
Keith: Well, thank you. I appreciate that.
Suzanne: Oh, yeah. You sound just like him. Was his music an
inspiration to you growing up?
Keith: Absolutely. Nat
King Cole gave me purpose to express my own romantic spirit.
Suzanne: Did you... I know you're just a few years older
than I am. I don't remember when his show was on. Did you
watch his TV show at all?
Keith: I'm a little bit...
His show came on, I was born when it was on the air.
Suzanne: OK. I didn't remember how old his show was, so...
Keith: But I have absolutely seen reruns and
re-broadcasts and I remember my folks talking about his
show. And for some reason I do remember seeing it in reruns.
But it could have been that that was an influence. He caught
my consciousness because I do remember very vividly seeing
Suzanne: Do you have a favorite Nat King
Keith: It varies from day to day.
Keith: One of my current favorites is
"Where Did Everyone Go?".
Suzanne: OK. I'll have to
look for that one. I don't know that one off the top of my
head. My favorite is "Nature Boy". I love that song. It's so
Keith: I love that song too. There are so
many great, great songs.
Suzanne: Yes. What
other music do you like to sing?
I'm working on a Joe Williams show. I'll be performing Joe
Williams's music. An historic show called "Here's to
Life" with the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra. Doing that
Suzanne: Oh, neat. Are you living in New
York right now or ...
Keith: No, I'm living in Los
Suzanne: Is that where "Greenleaf" films?
Suzanne: They film in Atlanta?
Keith: Yes, in Atlanta.
Suzanne: OK. A lot of things
are filmed in Atlanta nowadays. Let's see. So there are four
more episodes of the show left this season, including the
one tonight. Is there any information that you can share at
all about these episodes?
Keith: Watch it.
Suzanne: Just watch 'em, huh?
Keith: Yes, there's
lots of great surprises in the next four episodes. More and
more will be revealed, and each, I believe that the end of
each episode will leave your mouth agape.
OK, that sounds, that's par for the course with this show,
right? And the season finale, I'm sure, is going to be great
considering how good it was last year. They seem to get a
little better every season.
Keith: Well, from your
lips to God's ears.
Suzanne: Well, congratulations
on the show being renewed for Season Four.
Suzanne: And also congratulations on
"Night School" being a hit.
Keith: Thank you.
Suzanne: And had you worked with Kevin Hart before?
Keith: Yes, I have.
did Kevin's first TV show. It was called "The Big House".
Suzanne: Oh, OK. I remember that.
Keith: And I
was on that.
Suzanne: What was he like? Has he
changed any in those years?
Keith: I don't see him
every day to be able to-
Suzanne: Oh, OK.
Keith: Say that emphatically whether he's changed. To me
he's been the same guy that he's always been. He's been
wonderfully respectful, relevant, professional.
Suzanne: Well, that's good. I know he's really popular.
Right now I live in Arkansas, but I've lived, I think I
first heard of him when I lived in Alabama, but it might
have been Georgia. There was, we were downtown, and there
was a big theater and a long line outside, and it said,
"Kevin Hart" outside, and I'm like, "Who is that?" And then
I found out, and now I can't stop hearing about him.
Keith: Now you know.
Suzanne: Now he's everywhere.
Suzanne: So, you're a busy guy. You
do a lot of stuff. You have a lot of things coming out. What
else would you like to tell us about? Anything that you've
got coming out?
Keith: Well, like I said, I'll be in
Pittsburgh on November 30th. I'm doing a tribute to Joe
Williams with the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra. If you're in
the area, please come and check it out.
Alright. Anything else TV- or movie-wise that we should be
particularly looking for?
Keith: I just finished my
part in a great movie called "Seventeen Bridges".
Suzanne: "Seventeen Bridges?"
Keith: Yes. And that
will be with Chadwick Boseman.
Suzanne: Oh, OK. He's
good, yeah. Cool. And I saw that you're in something. Is it
something to do with Marvel?
Keith: That was a...
Suzanne: Warriors, or something?
Keith: That was
a pilot that we did and I hope it gets picked up.
Suzanne: Oh, it's a pilot, so you don't know yet whether
it's going to be picked up?
Suzanne: Yeah, I'm sure you do a lot of those and then you
think, "Oh, this is going to be the next great thing" and
then you never know.
Keith: Isn't that the truth.
Suzanne: Alright, well I really appreciate your talking
to me today, driving round L.A., New York, wherever you are.
well, I know you got a lot of time when you're in traffic
Keith: Yes, indeed.
Suzanne: I'm from
San Diego originally, so I know how that is.
Suzanne: Thank you.
talking to you.
Suzanne: You too. Bye bye.
Three-time Emmy award-winning veteran actor aka "the
King of Voice-overs, Keith David, best known for
his roles in PLATOON and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, returns as
'Bishop James Greenleaf' on OWN's third season of
"Greenleaf," which was recently picked up for a 4th
season! We would love to arrange an interview with you
and Keith to discuss what fans can expect from the
highly-anticipated season which currently airs on
Wednesday nights at 10/9c. Keith also can currently be
seen in films AMERICAN DRESSER alongside former
PLATOON cast-mate Tom Berenger, LOVE JACKED with
Amber Stevens-West and Mike Epps, and comedy NIGHT
SCHOOL in which he stars alongside funny-man Kevin Hart,
and new comedy queen Tiffany Haddish.
In its third season, Keith brings back to life 'Bishop
James Greenleaf,' the charismatic and strong leader of
Calvary Fellowship, and the patriarch of the family.
"Greenleaf" follows the unscrupulous world of the
Greenleaf family with scandalous secrets and lies, and
their sprawling Memphis megachurch with predominantly
African-American members. Over the past two years, the
series has been praised for its push and pull dynamic,
and Keith's stellar performance from
The Hollywood Reporter
. Season 3 picks up in the
wake of the shocking season 2 finale which show's 'James
Greenleaf' (David) getting kicked out of his family's
home after his affair with Mavis McCready (Oprah
Winfrey), comes to light. Please use the following link
to see the trailer for season 3 of Own's "Greenleaf"
Season 3 Trailer
Keith's extraordinary range of talent is evidenced by
his body of work. His films include THE PRINCESS AND THE
FROG, CORALINE, and Oscar-winning films CRASH, and
PLATOON. Some of his other over 75 film credits includes
ARMAGEDDON, THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, CLOCKERS, MEN
AT WORK, and countless others. Keith has received Emmy
Awards for his narration of two Ken Burns documentaries:
"The War" and "Unforgivable Blackness" and was nominated
for his narration of "Jazz". He also received a daytime
Emmy nomination for his work in Showtime's "The Tiger
Wood's Story". Keith has also had an envious career as a
very well-established voice over actor with titles under
his belt including the hit television series "Rick and
Morty," as well as "Gargoyles," and in big video game
franchises such as "Fallout," the "Halo" series, "Call
of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," and the "Mass Effect
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