Isiah Whitlock Jr. is bringing an unfamiliar narrative to the Spike Lee-directed Vietnam vet drama, Da 5 Bloods.
The film, which centers on four black Vietnam vets played by Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis and Whitlock, follows the four men as they return to Nam in search of buried treasure and the remains of their former squad leader. While each actor brings a troubled portrayal to the project, Whitlock tells ABC Audio that his character, Melvin, was created to be the least troubled.
“When I first started working on the character, I saw very clearly Delroy’s character dealing with the PTSD,” he says. “Norm’s character, his whole thing with the reparations and things of that nature. Clarke with his pain, and the family that he has kind of left behind.”
“And then you had Melvin, who… didn’t have any of that,” he continues. “And so I remember thinking then this is going to be the guy who’s going to just sort of be, matter-of-fact, black and white.”
With that in mind, Whitlock says he focused on making his character be the glue that held his unit together.
“And I’m going to make that play because I work off these other guys with all of their issues and problems and things like that,” he says. “And I’ll be the guy to say, ‘Come on, we can do this. We’ve got a job to do. I’m not bogged down in any of this stuff. All I want is to have a drink and dance and enjoy myself and do what we came over here to do.'”
“And go home to my family,” he adds.
Da 5 Bloods is now on Netflix.
By Candice Williams
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