Interview With ‘Causeway’ Star Brian Tyree Henry  

There’s a lot of Brian Tyree Henry in Causeway. The film, which also stars Jennifer Lawrence and is the first title under her Excellent Cadaver production company, has been a passion project for everyone involved — including its actors. After the pandemic halted filming on the New Orleans set, Henry and Lawrence found themselves quarantining mere miles away from each other in Los Angeles and decided to rework the script, enhancing the character of James to make the movie more of a two-hander. The resulting script — and Henry’s character — pulled a lot from his own lived experiences.

“When I started my transition into this career of being pretty prominent on film and television, I was carrying a huge personal loss, which was the death of my mother,” Henry said during a recent THR Presents panel, powered by Vision Media. “And when we meet James, he works at an auto body shop, and this woman [Lawrence] pulls up and something happens and he sees something in her. I think I, Brian, was roaming around hoping someone would do that for me.”

Causeway follows Lawrence’s character, Lynsey, as she returns to her native New Orleans following a traumatic brain injury during a deployment in Afghanistan. After meeting James, the two embark on a budding friendship, bonding over a shared sense of loss and their attempts to make their way in the world while filled with grief. Henry’s character is also an amputee, which added layers to the performance. “I used to carry my grief in such a way that you would see it before you saw me,” said Henry. “I wanted to explore that with James, to figure out all these levels of what my grief looked like. Because I was reading [in the script] a man who seemed to be really good at covering up his wounds.”

With a film this personal, it’s tempting for the creatives behind it to get wrapped up in its reception — especially once the awards buzz starts up. But for Henry, the way he’s measuring Causeway‘s success is simple. “Since this movie has been released, the biggest journey I’ve seen it take is giving people the ability to come up to me and say, ‘I lost somebody, too,’” he says. “It feels like people are laying their burdens down a little bit easier after this film, which is absolutely worth its weight in gold because all I really want, honestly, is to watch people heal.”

This edition of THR Presents is sponsored by Apple TV+.

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