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By Suzanne

Keith David as Bishop

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 what?

Keith: Well, my wife likes to make chili on Halloween, so we're gonna have some chili.

Suzanne: Good. That sounds good.

Keith: Oh, it is, it's very good.

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."

Suzanne: 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?

Keith: "Greenleaf."

Suzanne: "Greenleaf." I can imagine. Yeah, it's a great role you. For anybody, really.

Keith: I'm having a wonderful time.

Suzanne: Good, good, good. Sorry to make you yell. Did you say you're driving?

Keith: I am driving.

Suzanne: Oh, 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" these days.

Suzanne: Right. Do they call out, "Bishop"?

Keith: Yes, they do.

Suzanne: That's 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.

Suzanne: Right.

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 suit.

Keith: Well, I just know him.

Suzanne: 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.

Suzanne: Oh, okay.

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 handled.

Suzanne: Right, that's good.

Keith: 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 equally forgiving.

Keith: Eventually.

Suzanne: 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.

Suzanne: So you just go in there and pretty much just do it or...

Keith: It's as much preparation as you would for any other scene.

Suzanne: OK. I watched you do some singing on YouTube. I saw a medley 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 that show.

Suzanne: Do you have a favorite Nat King Cole song?

Keith: It varies from day to day.

Suzanne: OK?

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 beautiful.

Keith: I love that song too. There are so many  great, great songs.

Suzanne: Yes. What other music do you like to sing?

Keith: Currently, 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 November 30.

Suzanne: Oh, neat. Are you living in New York right now or ...

Keith: No, I'm living in Los Angeles.

Suzanne: Is that where "Greenleaf" films?

Keith: No.

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.

Suzanne: 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.

Keith: Thank you.

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.

Suzanne: In...?

Keith: I 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.

Keith: Yes.

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.

Suzanne: 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?

Keith: Right.

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. L.A., right?

Keith: L.A.

Suzanne: Alright, well, I know you got a lot of time when you're in traffic there.

Keith: Yes, indeed.

Suzanne: I'm from San Diego originally, so I know how that is.

Keith: OK. Alright.

Suzanne: Thank you.

Keith: Nice 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 Series."

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