Actor Brad James discusses upcoming films

Family Dollar brad james
Photo Cred: Steed Media Service

Actor Brad James may be best known from his role in Tyler Perry’s hit TV show” For Better or Worse,” but he’s achieved other amazing things in acting, as well. He has several films set to release that showcase a very different side of his acting skills. He recently wrapped the movie Sons 2 the Grave where he plays a sadistic killer. The Choice, a Nicholas Sparks film, also shows a different side to Brad, and will be coming out early 2016.

James gave rolling out an exclusive interview at the third annual Family Dollar Fabulous event. He shared how he prepared for his non-traditional roles in his upcoming movies, revealed one of his all-time favorite actors, and also opened up about how his life experiences helped to define his personal style. Find out what else he had to say below.

We’re sitting here with Brad James, also known as Todd from Tyler Perry’s hit series “For Better or Worse.” You guys have been doing well with the show. Tell us about it.
I believe we’re in season seven right now. It’s been a great ride. We’ve shot over 140 episodes right now, so we’ve been doing this for a while.

So, what’s different about this season?
You know, for us, as we come back to every season, every time we come back to shoot, it feels like a family reunion. It’s a great environment, so I look forward to the time of year where we can go back and shoot more episodes every season. I think for the fans, this is a better season and our ratings have spiked because we’re back to showing two episodes on Fridays, instead of just one, so they get more than that. You know, when you watch a TV sitcom, you’re watching 22 minutes of footage. So, that doesn’t give the viewer as much as, per se an hour long drama would and I think that’s what audiences are starting to gravitate to, those hour-long shows because they’re doing really well. So, the fact that we can come on back-to-back and give a little more of that storyline is getting to be a lot fun.

Now, that show is basically all about relationships and it’s kind of like a spin-off from Why Did I Get Married? And the relationship between two of the characters. Do you think that’s what’s caused the show to be so successful because it is dealing with you know, dysfunctional relationships, sometimes functional?
You know, what I have to say is that I have to give credit where it’s due and the success of that show, you just have to give all credit to Tyler Perry. And I don’t want to say that it’s one relationship that’s bringing that forward, but he has a way of telling multiple stories at the same time. So, while the show started with the relationship of Marcus and Angela from the Why Did I Get Married?  movies it’s grown into so much more. They’ve tackled several relationships, family issues, new babies on the way and that’s some of the stuff the fans always stop and ask me about is you know, “When’s the baby, when they gon’ show the baby?” He leaves a lot of questions unanswered on purpose. Because, that’s how life is, we don’t get answers to all the questions we want right away.  And I think that’s what keeps people coming back for more.

We know that you’ve been a regular on that series but you also have some other things coming up. Is there anything you can like give us a little sneak preview of?
I could probably drop a couple jewels. Man, this has been a great year and next year, we’re looking for a lot more. I recently finished a film called Sons 2 the Grave which we have our unofficial invite for Sundance right now. Really looking forward to that, because it’s such a flip of a character from what I usually do. So, people who see me as this fun loving crazy kid who’ll say anything on the show, will get a completely different taste when they see me as a sadistic killer in this film. You know, sometimes it’s fun being the bad guy so, there’s some action in there and that’s the reason I got into this business,  was to do action roles, action movies. I did that film under the direction of Mykelti Williamson, who is a phenomenal director because he’s an actor turned director. A lot of people know him as Bubba from Forrest Gump or from his role in Waiting to Exhale and things like that; as a director, he’s pretty phenomenal. And then coming up, we have a February 5th release for The Choice which is a Nicholas Sparks film we did through Lionsgate, with Alexandra Daddario and Tom Welling and a host of other people that you don’t normally see me with. Nicholas Sparks, he’s a phenom, he’s had 17 best sellers, I think he’s about to drop another book so we can just say that he’s gonna have an 18th best seller. And a lot of these have been turned over to films that are classics like, The Notebook, and Best of Me and Longest Ride. So, The Choice is something that we’re really looking forward to.

What is your character like in that film?
For those that have read the book, my character onscreen is going to be different than the one in the book. One thing that happens from book adaptations to films is that things get condensed, so sometimes your character gets to be a blend of a bunch of different characters. So, the character they see me in onscreen is probably going to be three or four characters from the book blended into one. As is my wife in the story, you know we have a great time. I’m looking forward to seeing what the die-hard fans’ take is on that character. And another thing to note is that in the book, the character wasn’t black so, there may be a little bit of shock value for some people; I’m anxious to see it.

Was that a reward to be able to get a role that wasn’t specifically written for an African American actor?
You know, I think it’s always a plus when you can do something out of the norm. As actors, we’re artists and we’re entertainers as much as we want to be devoted to the craft, it’s really about entertaining because if your audience isn’t buying into what you’re doing then you have no career, so to speak. I love the fact that we’re able to tackle the unknown. I would hate to try to play something exactly as it was elsewhere. I did a film with some good friends of mine, Charles Dutton and Tatiyana Ali, where one of the things we discussed was not being line readers; anybody can come in and read lines. It’s up to the performers to make it their own, so if you see some of the greats, what you’ll see is that the performances are always unique, they always bring something of their own to the character and that’s what I hope to be able to do.

Did you do anything specific to prepare to play a sadistic killer?
I did, I did, I almost don’t want to tell you what I did. I binge watched a few movies and one of those in particular, one that really stuck out to me and it wasn’t that he was a killer per se in the movie. But, I love his take on the role and it’s somebody who I really look up to because he’s also what I consider to be a versatile actor, someone who can make you laugh and fight in a movie and do drama and you believe it all. That was, Wesley Snipes, I watched three or four Wesley Snipes films, particularly, New Jack City. I binge watched New Jack City before I took on that role just because I loved the way he took on Nino Brown, you know it was so unexpected, it was just a different take on that kind of character especially at that time.

For years, people hated him because he played that character so well.
Absolutely phenomenal, {I have a lot] of respect for Wesley.

So, this event is called “Fabulous.” It’s Family Dollar’s take on style. Even though as an actor you play different characters, in order to stay relevant, you have to represent yourself. So, how would you describe your personal style? How do you think you came to find that as Brad James, you know the actor, not as the characters you play?
Here’s what I can say, I’m thankful for the path I took to get to where I am right now, it’s led me in a lot of different directions. I did some of everything before I started in this career. I wasn’t someone who got in very young or as a child and got developed by stylists or by the industry. I went off, I served in the military, I went around the world, I came back home, I started my own businesses, I was in real estate, I worked in restaurants, I’ve seen  a lot. So, you know as of right now, I like to think that my style is freedom, my style is choice. I may show up one day looking completely different than I do another day at another place. I feel very comfortable doing that, I hope it lends well to my craft and I hope it lends well to my style but, it’s just the way I feel. I feel like I can show up grunged out with holey jeans and then that afternoon, that evening, you’ll see me in a suit and it should translate just as well.

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