A Soldier’s Story

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Robert Townsend: one-on-one with the Hollywood pioneer

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

Robert Townsend is a Hollywood pioneer. The actor-comedian, who was in town last week for the screening of his latest film, In the Hive, has a lengthy résumé as a producer and director. However, according to Townsend, who discussed his career with the MSR, his becoming a filmmaker “was an accident” and that he originally wanted only to be an actor. “I did a movie called A Soldier’s Story (1984) and I was in it with Denzel (Washington), Adolph Caesar, Howard Rollins and David Allen Grier, and that movie changed my life.”

His first big-screen roles was as an extra in Mahogany and Fast Break, but his first theatrical break came in an uncredited role in Cooley High (1975). After playing a string of stereotypical bit roles, his Corporal Ellis character in A Soldier’s Story “was the first time I got to just play a human being,” recalled Townsend. Continue Reading →

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