The remarkable story of Brian Banks
leaves you both angry and inspired. A high school football star, his future was interrupted when he was accused and convicted of raping a classmate. He spent 5 years in prison after copping a plea deal, afraid of a potential 41-year-to-life sentence. After being released, his accuser messaged him on Facebook
, hoping to rekindle their relationship. Eager for justice, Banks eventually met her at his lawyer’s office, where she confessed while being secretly recorded. With the help of the Innocence Project
, he was exonerated and went on to play with the Atlanta Falcons.
Now, his story is being brought to film and shows his transition from tragedy to triumph. Actor Dorian Missick stars as Banks’ Parole Officer, Mick Randolph, who abuses his authority spewed by his hatred of sex offenders. I spoke with Dorian about Banks’ life, his character and what he hopes audiences take away from the film.
How familiar were you with Brian Banks’ story before the movie?
I’d heard of Brian but not the intricate details. Prior to the script and doing further research, I thought he was a college athlete on his way to the pros as opposed to being in high school when the unfortunate turn of events took place. The overall arc of his story was a learning experience.
What was the audition process like?
I knew the film was being made but didn’t actively pursue it. When the script was sent to my agent I found out about Officer Mick Randolph, auditioned, and by the end of the day, got the call.
What did you do to prepare for this role?
I received all direction on my character from Brian, who was extremely involved. He hasn’t had any contact with Randolph since being off parole. When I read the script, I immediately connected because I’ve experienced people like Randolph before: someone older, cocky and slightly jealous because he too played football. I liked the contrast of the two. It’s interesting – I came on late in the process because of a miscommunication between casting and Brian. They assumed Randolph was white and auditioned white actors for the role. When Brian found out, things changed.
What did that casting assumption reveal to you?
It said a lot about people’s perceptions of things – the assumption that people in positions of power are white. We’re conditioned to believe that. The dynamic between Brian and Randolph, who is black, isn’t new. Blacks are familiar with this character, even going back to the house negro in slavery. We know their motivations. In this scenario, Randolph has to please his boss and could be scrutinized at work if he’s considered being lenient on someone because they have the same skin color. So he doesn’t make things easy for Randolf. There’s a freedom white parole officers have that black parole officers face different consequences for. From an actor’s perspective, that was interesting to pry into.
You mentioned earlier you didn’t know all details of Brian’s case. When you discovered the full story, what impact did it have?
It’s hard to think that someone’s word has the power to shape the trajectory of your life, especially in terms of a sexual relationship. That’s an intimate moment between two people and it was used against him. That’s scary. Men in my circles have been skeptical of rape allegations before. I’m not a general believer in thinking that women lie about assault because they already have scrutiny they come under when they do come forward with allegations. The notion of women fabricating such stories was difficult for me to fathom, but Brian put a face to that truth with his case.
What made you want to participate in the film, and did it hold emotional weight?
A lot of films now have important subject matter. This isn’t a fad or a cool film- this will last. I jumped at the opportunity because I knew it would be done right. This role took a toll on me to a certain degree. I don’t live my life as black and white as Randolph. It was frustrating to play a guy who refused to bend. Having Brian on set and him re-living it was tough. The scenes that I was involved in were the worst parts of the story. Watching Brian’s reaction was difficult and he’d leave set because it was too much at times.
|Brian Banks and his Mom
What did you learn and what’s your anticipated reaction?
Being around Brian everyday was most impactful. If there’s anyone who has a reason to be resentful, Brian is someone you’d give a pass because he’s had an unfair deck of cards. But, he leads with love, he’s not vindictive, he’s genuine. Experiencing his graciousness is something to relish.
Audiences will love this movie because people enjoy stories with hope. This isn’t a movie where you’ll walk out feeling like you hate the world.
Do you think Brian’s story will spark change?
I’m hopeful his story will affect things moving forward as far as the idea of being innocent until proven guilty. Although things initially were bad, I think it helps cases to come because we now have a reference point.
The Brian Banks Story, starring Aldis Hodge as Brian Banks and Sherri Shepherd as Brian’s mom, will premiere September 22nd at the Los Angeles Film Festival. You can catch Dorian in his upcoming projects: Jinn (released in November), and Tell Me A Story on CBS All Access.