Omar Epps Takes It Against The Ropes

He’s riveting to watch and almost never seems as if he’s acting on screen.

 

Omar Epps is talking about the ill-fated Rams playoff game against the Carolina Panthers and Mike Martz’s decision to settle for a field goal in the waning seconds.

“That was crazy, man. All season long, you’ve been a guy who takes chances, a guy who pushes the team to win any way possible. And now, when it really matters, when the game is on the line, you suddenly play it safe? What’s that all about?” He shakes his head. “That just wasn’t right. You have to go for it, man.”

Epps, clearly a sports aficionado, jaws on the subject energetically. It could be one of the reasons he’s been cast as an athlete in films such as 1992’s Juice (Paramount) and 1995’s Higher Learning (Columbia/TriStar). In Against the Ropes (Paramount). Epps plays Luther Shaw, a boxer extricated from a life of drugs and jail by Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan), one of the few successful female boxing promoters in history. Their emotional and situational sparring makes for a compelling film, as Shaw is at first cautiously receptive to Kallen’s efforts to shape him up and turn him into a successful prizefighter, but later grows resentful at her controlling nature and need to have the spotlight on her all the time. Epps plays Shaw as an edgy, temperamental cuss who lacks the discipline to make it as a big-time fighter, yet has a heart that is ultimately able to listen and do what it takes to break him out of his psychic constraints. He’s riveting to watch and almost never seems as if he’s acting on screen.

“I’m an avid boxing fan,” said Epps. “I watched a lot of Marvin Haglar tapes. But I only had a month and a half to prepare, to spend time trying to learn the craft. Boxing is about a lot of things besides skill and drive. The training was rigorous. Basically, it was tough…what Charles [S. Dutton, the director] wanted to capture, I had to be in tip-top shape for.”

In some of the film’s scenes, Epps looks like he’s getting whacked pretty good. “I took a couple of hits,” he said with a laugh. “But nothin’ too bad. I couldn’t afford to get hit on top. I’m reactive; that’s part of being on top of my game. There’s only so much you can prepare for… For a filmmaker, boxing is one of the hardest things to capture. You can’t rush anything, you have to be able to see the guys, see what they’re doing in the ring.”

“I actually didn’t want to do another sports film,” said Epps. “But I was intrigued by the backstory of this one. Boxing was sort of the last thing on the list. First of all, this film is about a woman in the boxing world—that sets it apart right there. It’s also about a man and a woman on screen in a platonic relationship. These are two people on opposite sides of the spectrum. In their respective worlds, they were both underdogs, and they understood this about each other.”
Epps admits it’s impossible to predict how audiences will respond to another boxing movie. “I don’t get into that part of it,” he said. “As an artist, you just do your craft, and if it’s a good film…you just never know. So many other components go into the making of a film. Once a film is done, it’s…really about marketing and promotion.”

Epps was in the unique position of working with a major actress, Ryan, bent on transforming herself away from the romantic comedies in which she had specialized. First in last year’s In the Cut (Screen Gems) and now as the flamboyant, gutsy Jackie Kallen, there is little trace of the old Meg evident on screen. In other words, it’s not When Luther Met Jackie.

“Meg was great,” Epps said. “The most exciting part is that she’s coming out of that box and challenging herself. It’s refreshing seeing someone try to do something that’s really outside their comfort zone.”
Epps is a pleasant and amiable actor who has logged some tough performances in his career, which began at the New York High School for the Performing Arts. After his debut in Juice, Epps earned acclaim for his portrayal of a young man going to college on an athletic scholarship in the John Singleton film Higher Learning. He also snagged a brief but recurring role on the hit show ER as the emotionally stressed Dr. Dennis Gant. Portraying a hardened criminal, Epps was nominated for an NAACP Award for Best Actor for the Showtime original movie Conviction (Paramount) in 2002. He also starred in two HBO movies, First-Time Felon, directed by Charles S. Dutton, and Deadly Voyage, produced by Danny Glover. Other big-screen pictures include Scream 2, The Wood, The Mod Squad, Major League 2, and Love and Basketball. One of the first projects for his recently formed entertainment company BKNY will be a script Epps co-wrote.

It’s intriguing to hear an actor relaxed, jovial, and upbeat after witnessing anger and abrasiveness effectively portrayed onscreen. Luther Shaw is one tough mutha. “I tried to improvise pieces of different characters that I liked,” he said. “You try to let it happen naturally. It’s reactive. You know, ‘A white woman’s gonna manage me? What? Get out of here!’”

“A lot of what you see in the movie is a product of Omar’s improvising,” said Nick Alachiotis, the assistant boxing choreographer for the film. “That’s how naturally talented he is as an athlete. In fact, I think if Omar stuck with the training, he could actually get in the ring professionally.”

Epps would be flattered by the comment, but it’s doubtful he’ll be getting back in the ring anytime soon. He’s got a movie to promote, a script to finish, and more offers to field, as Against the Ropes makes more people aware of the talent and versatility of this heavyweight actor. Jackie Kallen would be proud.

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Omar Epps Takes It Against The Ropes

Omar Epps is talking about the ill-fated Rams playoff game against the Carolina Panthers and Mike Martz’s decision to settle for a field goal in the waning seconds.

“That was crazy, man. All season long, you’ve been a guy who takes chances, a guy who pushes the team to win any way possible. And now, when it really matters, when the game is on the line, you suddenly play it safe? What’s that all about?” He shakes his head. “That just wasn’t right. You have to go for it, man.”

Epps, clearly a sports aficionado, jaws on the subject energetically. It could be one of the reasons he’s been cast as an athlete in films such as 1992’s Juice (Paramount) and 1995’s Higher Learning (Columbia/TriStar). In Against the Ropes (Paramount). Epps plays Luther Shaw, a boxer extricated from a life of drugs and jail by Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan), one of the few successful female boxing promoters in history. Their emotional and situational sparring makes for a compelling film, as Shaw is at first cautiously receptive to Kallen’s efforts to shape him up and turn him into a successful prizefighter, but later grows resentful at her controlling nature and need to have the spotlight on her all the time. Epps plays Shaw as an edgy, temperamental cuss who lacks the discipline to make it as a big-time fighter, yet has a heart that is ultimately able to listen and do what it takes to break him out of his psychic constraints. He’s riveting to watch and almost never seems as if he’s acting on screen.

“I’m an avid boxing fan,” said Epps. “I watched a lot of Marvin Haglar tapes. But I only had a month and a half to prepare, to spend time trying to learn the craft. Boxing is about a lot of things besides skill and drive. The training was rigorous. Basically, it was tough…what Charles [S. Dutton, the director] wanted to capture, I had to be in tip-top shape for.”

In some of the film’s scenes, Epps looks like he’s getting whacked pretty good. “I took a couple of hits,” he said with a laugh. “But nothin’ too bad. I couldn’t afford to get hit on top. I’m reactive; that’s part of being on top of my game. There’s only so much you can prepare for… For a filmmaker, boxing is one of the hardest things to capture. You can’t rush anything, you have to be able to see the guys, see what they’re doing in the ring.”

“I actually didn’t want to do another sports film,” said Epps. “But I was intrigued by the backstory of this one. Boxing was sort of the last thing on the list. First of all, this film is about a woman in the boxing world—that sets it apart right there. It’s also about a man and a woman on screen in a platonic relationship. These are two people on opposite sides of the spectrum. In their respective worlds, they were both underdogs, and they understood this about each other.”
Epps admits it’s impossible to predict how audiences will respond to another boxing movie. “I don’t get into that part of it,” he said. “As an artist, you just do your craft, and if it’s a good film…you just never know. So many other components go into the making of a film. Once a film is done, it’s…really about marketing and promotion.”

Epps was in the unique position of working with a major actress, Ryan, bent on transforming herself away from the romantic comedies in which she had specialized. First in last year’s In the Cut (Screen Gems) and now as the flamboyant, gutsy Jackie Kallen, there is little trace of the old Meg evident on screen. In other words, it’s not When Luther Met Jackie.

“Meg was great,” Epps said. “The most exciting part is that she’s coming out of that box and challenging herself. It’s refreshing seeing someone try to do something that’s really outside their comfort zone.”
Epps is a pleasant and amiable actor who has logged some tough performances in his career, which began at the New York High School for the Performing Arts. After his debut in Juice, Epps earned acclaim for his portrayal of a young man going to college on an athletic scholarship in the John Singleton film Higher Learning. He also snagged a brief but recurring role on the hit show ER as the emotionally stressed Dr. Dennis Gant. Portraying a hardened criminal, Epps was nominated for an NAACP Award for Best Actor for the Showtime original movie Conviction (Paramount) in 2002. He also starred in two HBO movies, First-Time Felon, directed by Charles S. Dutton, and Deadly Voyage, produced by Danny Glover. Other big-screen pictures include Scream 2, The Wood, The Mod Squad, Major League 2, and Love and Basketball. One of the first projects for his recently formed entertainment company BKNY will be a script Epps co-wrote.

It’s intriguing to hear an actor relaxed, jovial, and upbeat after witnessing anger and abrasiveness effectively portrayed onscreen. Luther Shaw is one tough mutha. “I tried to improvise pieces of different characters that I liked,” he said. “You try to let it happen naturally. It’s reactive. You know, ‘A white woman’s gonna manage me? What? Get out of here!’”

“A lot of what you see in the movie is a product of Omar’s improvising,” said Nick Alachiotis, the assistant boxing choreographer for the film. “That’s how naturally talented he is as an athlete. In fact, I think if Omar stuck with the training, he could actually get in the ring professionally.”

Epps would be flattered by the comment, but it’s doubtful he’ll be getting back in the ring anytime soon. He’s got a movie to promote, a script to finish, and more offers to field, as Against the Ropes makes more people aware of the talent and versatility of this heavyweight actor. Jackie Kallen would be proud.

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Leave a Reply

Omar Epps Takes It Against The Ropes

Omar Epps is talking about the ill-fated Rams playoff game against the Carolina Panthers and Mike Martz’s decision to settle for a field goal in the waning seconds.

“That was crazy, man. All season long, you’ve been a guy who takes chances, a guy who pushes the team to win any way possible. And now, when it really matters, when the game is on the line, you suddenly play it safe? What’s that all about?” He shakes his head. “That just wasn’t right. You have to go for it, man.”

Epps, clearly a sports aficionado, jaws on the subject energetically. It could be one of the reasons he’s been cast as an athlete in films such as 1992’s Juice (Paramount) and 1995’s Higher Learning (Columbia/TriStar). In Against the Ropes (Paramount). Epps plays Luther Shaw, a boxer extricated from a life of drugs and jail by Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan), one of the few successful female boxing promoters in history. Their emotional and situational sparring makes for a compelling film, as Shaw is at first cautiously receptive to Kallen’s efforts to shape him up and turn him into a successful prizefighter, but later grows resentful at her controlling nature and need to have the spotlight on her all the time. Epps plays Shaw as an edgy, temperamental cuss who lacks the discipline to make it as a big-time fighter, yet has a heart that is ultimately able to listen and do what it takes to break him out of his psychic constraints. He’s riveting to watch and almost never seems as if he’s acting on screen.

“I’m an avid boxing fan,” said Epps. “I watched a lot of Marvin Haglar tapes. But I only had a month and a half to prepare, to spend time trying to learn the craft. Boxing is about a lot of things besides skill and drive. The training was rigorous. Basically, it was tough…what Charles [S. Dutton, the director] wanted to capture, I had to be in tip-top shape for.”

In some of the film’s scenes, Epps looks like he’s getting whacked pretty good. “I took a couple of hits,” he said with a laugh. “But nothin’ too bad. I couldn’t afford to get hit on top. I’m reactive; that’s part of being on top of my game. There’s only so much you can prepare for… For a filmmaker, boxing is one of the hardest things to capture. You can’t rush anything, you have to be able to see the guys, see what they’re doing in the ring.”

“I actually didn’t want to do another sports film,” said Epps. “But I was intrigued by the backstory of this one. Boxing was sort of the last thing on the list. First of all, this film is about a woman in the boxing world—that sets it apart right there. It’s also about a man and a woman on screen in a platonic relationship. These are two people on opposite sides of the spectrum. In their respective worlds, they were both underdogs, and they understood this about each other.”
Epps admits it’s impossible to predict how audiences will respond to another boxing movie. “I don’t get into that part of it,” he said. “As an artist, you just do your craft, and if it’s a good film…you just never know. So many other components go into the making of a film. Once a film is done, it’s…really about marketing and promotion.”

Epps was in the unique position of working with a major actress, Ryan, bent on transforming herself away from the romantic comedies in which she had specialized. First in last year’s In the Cut (Screen Gems) and now as the flamboyant, gutsy Jackie Kallen, there is little trace of the old Meg evident on screen. In other words, it’s not When Luther Met Jackie.

“Meg was great,” Epps said. “The most exciting part is that she’s coming out of that box and challenging herself. It’s refreshing seeing someone try to do something that’s really outside their comfort zone.”
Epps is a pleasant and amiable actor who has logged some tough performances in his career, which began at the New York High School for the Performing Arts. After his debut in Juice, Epps earned acclaim for his portrayal of a young man going to college on an athletic scholarship in the John Singleton film Higher Learning. He also snagged a brief but recurring role on the hit show ER as the emotionally stressed Dr. Dennis Gant. Portraying a hardened criminal, Epps was nominated for an NAACP Award for Best Actor for the Showtime original movie Conviction (Paramount) in 2002. He also starred in two HBO movies, First-Time Felon, directed by Charles S. Dutton, and Deadly Voyage, produced by Danny Glover. Other big-screen pictures include Scream 2, The Wood, The Mod Squad, Major League 2, and Love and Basketball. One of the first projects for his recently formed entertainment company BKNY will be a script Epps co-wrote.

It’s intriguing to hear an actor relaxed, jovial, and upbeat after witnessing anger and abrasiveness effectively portrayed onscreen. Luther Shaw is one tough mutha. “I tried to improvise pieces of different characters that I liked,” he said. “You try to let it happen naturally. It’s reactive. You know, ‘A white woman’s gonna manage me? What? Get out of here!’”

“A lot of what you see in the movie is a product of Omar’s improvising,” said Nick Alachiotis, the assistant boxing choreographer for the film. “That’s how naturally talented he is as an athlete. In fact, I think if Omar stuck with the training, he could actually get in the ring professionally.”

Epps would be flattered by the comment, but it’s doubtful he’ll be getting back in the ring anytime soon. He’s got a movie to promote, a script to finish, and more offers to field, as Against the Ropes makes more people aware of the talent and versatility of this heavyweight actor. Jackie Kallen would be proud.

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