If you are searching for that explosive movie this summer, look no further than the epic poignant rollercoaster that is ‘Miracle on St Anna.’ Directed by Spike Lee and featuring an All Star Cast, this monumental film ingeniously focuses on the journey of the Buffalo Soldiers during World War Two. Flavour had the opportunity to talk to the articulate and self-effacing Omar Miller, who plays the Samuel Train, (and is CSI’s latest recruit), to discuss the movie, ‘making it,’ and what makes the ‘Chocolate Giant’ melt.
For those living in the dark ages, tell us about Omar Miller?
I started acting in my junior year at college. I attended film school at San Jose State University, graduating in 2001. Since then I have been blessed with theatrical opportunities, as well as starring in films such as ‘8 mile’, ‘Undefeated’, ‘Transformers,’ ‘Things we lost in the fire,’ to name but a few.
As an actor you’ve played roles that require tremendous transition from Disney’s ‘The sorcerer’s apprentice’ to Sol George in Eminem’s ‘8 mile.’ What is your secret?
It is a gift to be given the opportunities to play different roles and genres, as a lot of people get type casted. I like doing comedy, (as I come from a big funny family), but I prefer serious drama roles because whether you realise it or not, there is humour in every situation. I’ve been professionally trained and attended school to do this, but have also learnt a lot from the amazing actors I have worked with like Richard Gere and Mekhi Phifer.
Please give us a brief synopsis of ‘Miracle on St Anna.’
The film is a complex look at World War II, focusing on the unsung heroes, such as the Buffalo Soldiers, Italian resistance and the more kind-hearted Nazi’s, (as contradictory as that might sound). It’s a film that looks at the brutality of war and the people it affects, without prejudice. It’s in three different languages, which requires audience participation and dispels stereotypes, so the Black American’s play Black Americans and the Italians are not stereotypically sitting around eating Pizza.
The film is based on a novel written by James McBride, how much did research did you do to get into character?
One of my uncle’s was a Buffalo soldier, so this is really close to my heart and I did everything to authentically place myself in the 1940’s. I listened to music from the period and had read the book prior to getting the part.
What impact do you think this film will have on its UK audience?
I am so excited that it’s getting released because it is a monumental film. It’s the best film I’ve made, but it was also the most demanding. There were no stuntmen or gimmicks, we ran up hills and climbed mountains in sweltering conditions and treaded water when the temperature dropped below zero. Every day I cherish the opportunity to be part of this film and the chance to focus on the beauty of the creative process.
Your character is referred to as the ‘Chocolate Giant.’ Do you share any similarities with your character Train, who although big in stature, was blessed with a heart of gold?
I’d like to think that I have a good heart and have remained humble. I wanted to ensure the audience understood that, what Train lacked in book smarts or the commonly accepted skill sets, he possessed in spirit and common sense. To date, my performance as Train is my crown jewel.
This film was directed by the iconic Spike Lee, what was he like to work with?
Spike Lee is one of the greatest things to happen to a camera and it was a pleasure because I grew up watching his movies. I got along well with him, but it was a challenge. He has high expectations, so once he casts you, you have to do your job to keep it. I was surrounded with creative people, ranging from the best cameraman in the world to my remarkable co-stars, who are all such great actors.
The Film focuses on the unusual bond between three different groups who overcome barriers to fight for freedom. Do you think it carries a lesson for today’s society?
Absolutely! Even with our advanced technology, we can learn something about power, struggle, poverty, human spirit and use it to go forward. The ideology is very relevant for this time period, as there are things happening today that mirror the plight of the characters of this film.
What’s next for Omar Miller?
I am in CSI Miami every week, but will eventually return to picking interesting characters on screen. I am also doing a lot of charitable activities, with the aim of bringing attention to worthy causes.
There are a lot of amazing words and phrases within the film. Do you have a particular catch phrase you live your life by?
‘To whom much is given, much is required!’ You have to challenge yourself and use your blessings and faculties to achieve your very best.
Words by Sarah James-Cyrus