Actor Joe Morton: Not Your Average Joe

… odd kind of identification, I suppose — Rowan being a black man who has that kind of power that, in the real world, we understand doesn’t exist. But on some level, people like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, they had that kind of power because they swayed people with their voices and their actions. And in some way, I think in that kind of strange triangle — between me, those two that I just mentioned, and Rowan — there is something I identify with.”

“Some people are leery of coming up to me on the street, but I get a lot of responses from fans who love Papa Pope,” he says. “They know he’s dangerous, but they love the character. They love this man who has so much power.”

“When it looked like Papa Pope was being told by someone else what to do, there were a lot of people saying, ‘Oh no. this can’t happen. No one talks to papa pope that way,’ ” he says. “It’s interesting. I think on one hand, people love to be terrified by him. He’s this very dangerous individual but at the same time I think people pick up that he’s human and has fears and loves and desires. He’s not just mean, evil and cruel.”

“I think probably no differently than any other actor in that you have your so-called breakthrough performance. You’re hoping for more opportunity, which is what life basically in any particular profession is about — how many opportunities do I have to accomplish the things that I want to accomplish. And for me at the time, it was fairly difficult in that for most black males at the time, the roles were either drug dealers, pimps — you know, boogeymen of some sort. And I made a very conscious decision that somebody would take that job [but] it just wouldn’t be me. That my goal was to try to present as many different kinds of positive African-American images as I could. And if I did play someone who was nefarious in some way, that it would have some reason for being. That there would be something to take away. Not just some guy who comes out of the dark and kills people.”

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