For many of you readers this New York native needs no introduction. Whether as one of your favorite Temptations or your worst nightmare in HBO’s OZ, he’s made a name for himself in both silver and small screen arenas. Professionally known as just Leon the multifaceted Leon Robinson has been the corner stone of some of cinemas most exciting moments and now he’s back center stage with his new role in the movie, And Then There Was You. I had a chance to chat with Leon to dive into what viewers can expect from the romantic drama and he enlightened me to much more than just his part in the feature. Check out the full interview to see what he had to say.
Parlé Magazine: For those who aren’t familiar with your career would you mind by telling me how and why you got into the business?
Leon: Hmm, acting kind of found me to be honest. I was actually a student on a basketball scholarship at Loyola Marymount University and one day a graduate film student chased me down campus and begged me to be in his movie. I was a bit surprised because it was out of the blue. I asked him why didn’t he chose someone in his theater arts department and he said he wanted me because of the way I looked and how I carried myself so I tried it.
Parlé: So a chance encounter actually started your whole journey, how were you sure it was the right choice for you?
Leon: I had that experience, you know the one we all have in life where you sit down and talk to someone for an hour but yet you feel like you’ve known them for a lot longer than that hour. That’s the way I felt when I was on the movie set so I switched my major to drama and it became my craft.
Parlé: And to date you’ve went on to boast over 60 acting and producing credits, it must have truly become a passion for you. Would you agree?
Leon: Oh yeah, without a doubt! If there is anything I don’t like about acting it’s the business of it but the actual act of acting, and becoming a character and being able to do my thing or tell a story I love. I’ll always love it.
Parlé: Speaking of characters, you’ve played some pretty diverse ones in the past. How do you go about choosing the ones you want to interpret?
Leon: Well a lot of times you just have to decide whether or not you think you can pull it off. When you’re playing a character that actually walked and talked on this earth you have a certain responsibility and certain expectations put upon you. Like with characters like David Ruffin or Little Richard I did a lot of studying of their moments and who they were and how they were before I could choose.
Parlé: What about the fictional side of it? How do you prepare for those?
Leon: For the most part when you’re telling that kind of story you have to develop the character yourself, try and put in as much of the characteristic you feel they would have and hopefully have enough time to work on it before you have to put them up on the big screen.
Parlé: And having played so many of both those types of characters are there still roles that you aspire to bring to life one day?
Leon: Of course, yeah without a doubt. You know you see movies or more importantly know of a story that has yet been told or a book and think “wow,” I would love to tackle this.” At the end of the day I consider myself a storyteller. When I’m an actor I’m just a character in a story and it’s the story that matters and there are a lot out there.
Parlé: Indeed there are many. Including your role in And Then There Was You would you be able to pick your favorite?Leon: Wow, as far as the characters I’ve already done I would have to say whichever one is your favorite is my favorite. I tell the story for you not for me so I’d have to say whatever one you like is the one I like (laughs).
Parlé: Cool, well off the record mine would have to be David Ruffin. (Laughs)
Leon: Good to know. (Laughs)
Parlé: With your new character Joshua in And Then There Was You, you star as the lover, or the former of Garcelle Beauvais. How did you guys meet and how was it working on this project together.
Leon: Actually other than seeing Garcelle around town or at a meeting we didn’t really know each other well before this movie but it (working together) was great. I have a great deal of like and respect for her and overall it was fun. As far as getting involved with the project it was Leila Djansi, who is the director and producer of the movie, who reached out to me and asked me to be in this movie and I’m glad she did. I look forward to seeing it and from what I hear people like it. (Laughs)
Parlé: It does look to be a good film. I watched the trailer earlier and noticed there were a lot of interesting dramatic moments, especially with Joshua leaving his family. Is this a part of the reason you chose to play him?
Leon: Well what I like about it is that Joshua isn’t a “likeable” role for what he does, but what it does is explore the complexities of what he did and why he did. The fact of it is that when a man or a woman walks away from their family there are other things involved that we don’t know about. It also explores a relationship and friend that comes from it. I liked that it wasn’t a one dimensional character.
Parlé: You seem to have a really in depth connection to his storyline, were there any parts of you that directly related to Joshua? How did you go about getting in tune with his life?
Leon: No, not really, but I prepared by understanding who my character is. Understanding the world in which he is living in and the decisions he has to make and basically being that guy. In this particular story Garcelle is the protagonist and I would be one of the antagonists, but that’s my position to make the story move forward so I tried to play the role with as much enthusiasm as possible.
Parlé: Given that he is such a diverse character and the storyline seems to have endless possibilities it screams TV series to me. Would you be open to keeping the character of Joshua alive?
Leon: Definitely. If it was presented to me I would have interest. If they created a character and there was a good storyline for that character to continue of course I would like to.
Parlé: And from the point of view of your character what would you say to encourage someone to see this movie and learn all sides of the story.
Leon: I would tell them you should see this movie because it explores a domestic situation and a love situation that is very real. It’s very unique in a cinematic sense and very much a real life situation in this generation of reality TV.
Parlé: Now aside from Joshua and And Then There Was You what else are you working on? Where can your fans see more of Leon?
Leon: Well, there are a couple things I’m working on. Obviously there is this movie which premieres this Saturday,and a romantic comedy I’m starring in called I Really Hate My Ex, written and directed by Troy Bear. Also a movie I just finished called 40 To Life and Love is a Beautiful Thing which is the name of the tour for my band Leon & The Peoples It’s also the name of our single which you can check out on YouTube and BET.
Parlé: Great to hear. I’m looking forward to seeing all of this and thanks for giving us a little insight on your new movie.
Leon: No problem man. Thank you, take care.