Kelvin Harrison, Jr. broke through on the big screen in A24’s 2017 dramatic thriller “It Comes At Night” and the Netflix ensemble piece “Mudbound”. But 2019 was even bigger for Harrison, Jr. with leading roles in “Waves” (which re-teamed him with “Night” director Trey Edward Shults) and the FANTASTIC “Luce”.
This NEON drama based on a play put Harrison, Jr. front and center, going toe-to-toe with Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts and Tim Roth. Harrison, Jr.’s performance as the title character earned him an Independent Spirit Awards nomination for Best Actor, though, according to the category’s winner, “will now and forever be known as the guy who lost to f***in’ Adam Sandler.”
I had the chance to attend a screening of “Luce” in Los Angeles last July – and I was blown away. I knew then that Harrison, Jr. deserved to be in the Best Actor conversation… and was on his way to stardom. He was part of a post-screening Q&A that night with director Julius Onah and co-writer J.C. Lee.
“I read [the script], and I was like, Man! I kept turning the pages. This 17-year-old is having really profound ways of speaking to adults about race and power and privilege and really having an interesting take on this progressive view… I’m blown away.”
I met Harrison, Jr. afterward and congratulated him on his performance. Now, a little less than a year later, he joins another star-studded trio of Tracee Ellis Ross, Dakota Johnson and Ice Cube in the new romantic music dramedy “The High Note”, from “Late Night” director Nisha Ganatra. Focus Features was originally scheduled to release it in theaters on May 8th, but it will now be available on Video on Demand and digital platforms on May 29th.
After watching the trailer a few months ago, I’ve been looking forward to seeing this one. There’s something intriguing and refreshing about the concept that I hope blossoms in the film. (And we’ll see how many music puns I can incorporate into one review.)