Tequan Richmond Interview: "Everybody Hates Chris" Star Lands Breakout Role as Beltway Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo in "Blue Caprice"
Image attributed to Jeff Vespa
Twenty-year old North Carolina native Tequan Richmond is probably best known for portraying Drew on Chris Rock’s series Everybody Hates Chris for four seasons, and now all eyes are upon the young heartthrob again in his breakout role as Lee Boyd Malvo, one half of the infamous Beltway sniper due in the film Blue Caprice which begins its theatrical rollout on September 13, 2013. The film, which made waves at Sundance this past January, tells the story of the “father and son” duo that terrorized several states in 2002. Former Grey’s Anatomy star Isaiah Washington portrays John Allen Muhammed, the mastermind behind the random massacres.
Richmond scored his first big screen role at the age of 12 alongside Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx in Ray as Ray Charles, Jr. Television credits include Cold Case, The Shield, Strong Medicine, Numb3rs, Weeds and Private Practice. Richmond can currently be seen as T.J. Ashford on the ABC daytime drama General Hospital.
"It was definitely really strange coming from four seasons of Everybody Hates Chris as Drew Rock. That’s what I’m known for, so for somebody to believe in me to do something like this was a big leap. I didn’t really have much proof to show that I could play a character like that, so that was definitely a big role for me and a big risk for me to take. I think it turned out well."
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Tequan, was this your first experience at Sundance?
Tequan Richmond: Yes. It was my first experience at Sundance. I had a really good time even though it was cold as hell.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Were you starstruck at all?
Tequan Richmond: I knew most of the people there, or they were people I had seen in the industry before in auditions and things. A friend of mine, Michael B. Jordan, had a film there called Fruitvale Station, and it did really well.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Let’s talk about Blue Caprice. How did your involvement in the film come about?
Tequan Richmond: You know, I never thought about it, but my mom brought this to my attention the other day. I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody about this. We almost didn’t go with the film because we didn’t think it was going to be what it was. But the script was sent to me, and Alexandre Moors and I had a little meeting on Skype where I actually auditioned.
He basically wanted me to point the gun at the camera to see what it looked like and all types of weird stuff like that. After that, he called and said, “Well, come to New York.” After New York, everybody got acclimated with each other, and after that, we just went to work. That’s how it came about. He just wanted to meet on Skype.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you do any research for the role of Lee Boyd Malvo?
Tequan Richmond: Alexandre actually sent me books, interviews, real conversations between him and other interviewers as well, like transcripts. But the book, The Making of Lee Boyd Malvo, was the most important. I have it here on my little mantle in my house.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I guess you were about 10 years old when the shootings occurred. Do you remember the sniper attacks at all?
Tequan Richmond: It’s very vague because at that age you don’t know everything that’s going on, but of course you saw it on the news. Everybody remembers that on the news. Man, it was a crazy time.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Were you still in North Carolina at that time?
Tequan Richmond: I was already in Los Angeles.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is this film primarily about the relationship between Muhammed and Malvo?
Tequan Richmond: This film is mainly about what got two killers motivated to kill. Better yet, what got two regular people motivated to kill. Basically, it tells all the events leading up to what motivated them to kill, not really the relationship between the two. I mean, the relationship is shown and how they met. That’s all covered in the movie, but the whole thing is about the reason behind the killings because people never knew why this was going on.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Were the survivors interviewed?
Tequan Richmond: I don’t believe they were interviewed, but they do have all the information on them as I’m sure you can guess.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I imagine this was an intense role for an actor to play. Did you find it challenging?
Tequan Richmond: It was definitely really strange coming from four seasons of Everybody Hates Chris as Drew Rock. That’s what I’m known for, so for somebody to believe in me to do something like this was a big leap. I didn’t really have much proof to show that I could play a character like that, so that was definitely a big role for me and a big risk for me to take. I think it turned out well.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How was it working with Isaiah Washington?
Tequan Richmond: He’s a veteran actor, so I just wanted to learn everything I could from him. He was great in giving pointers, just leading the way the whole time. It was a great experience.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): We’ve missed you on General Hospital. Did you take time off from the soap to film Blue Caprice?
Tequan Richmond: I am back (laughs). We had a little storyline bump, but we are back. I’m recently back, so that’s all I can pretty much say (laughs). You know about that (laughs). I didn’t have to take time off for anything else. We just had a little bump in storyline.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was it interesting for you to play a love triangle (TJ, Rafe and Molly)?
Tequan Richmond: The love triangle thing was a first for me. It was very fun doing it on camera. There’s definitely more of that going to continue on a little bit in a different way. That’s all I can say. I’ve had a lot of fun. Hopefully they’ll start checking more into the relationship between Shawn and TJ as well. That’s needed for the extension of the character and is coming soon.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Cool. Was it difficult for you to come in and replace another actor?
Tequan Richmond: Not really. I had never seen the actor before, so I didn’t know anything. I basically just came in and started to do my thing. I just wanted to make TJ me, make the character me. I think it has really been appreciated because my first year I was pre-nominated for an Emmy. Hopefully next year I’ll actually be nominated.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I hope so. Every actor I speak to says soap work is the hardest. Have you found that to be true?
Tequan Richmond: Absolutely true. People can say what they want to say about soap actors, but I feel they’re the best in the game as far as the actual acting goes because nobody is more trained or more on time. Nobody is “on” like a soap actor.
We have way more scenes to do, way more dialogue and one take. It’s just like a boot camp. It’s basically an actor’s boot camp. If you can do that, you can do anything like film or other television shows. All that stuff is a piece of cake.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did anyone on the set give you advice in the beginning?
Tequan Richmond: Haley (who plays Molly Lansing-Davis) was my little angel. She got me through everything and told me how things worked. I didn’t even know the different ways you could get coffee. They have an intercom in your room that yells out numbers, and basically you just have to listen for your numbers. If you miss your numbers, you are in trouble!
It’s not like a regular set where they come to your room, knock and see if you want to come out. It’s like this is really a training ground. It’s not one of those cushy Hollywood sets. You put in your work for a few hours, in and out.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You must still have a large fan base carried over from Everybody Hates Chris. Do you get many marriage proposals on Twitter and Facebook?
Tequan Richmond: Oh no, I don’t know anything about that (laughs). I really wanted to bring that fan base over to General Hospital. Do you think that happened?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I definitely think so.
Tequan Richmond: I hope so.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have you always wanted to be an actor, Tequan?
Tequan Richmond: It was kind of just a hobby of mine and more my mother’s passion. It took off into something that I just couldn’t not do, if you understand. They’re like, “Hey, you just booked eight jobs in a row. I don’t think this is something you should just quit.” I said, “I think you’re right.” So it was one of those type things, yeah.
It was something I just grew to like, and I just stuck with it. I didn’t know I was going to like it and didn’t ask to do it. It wasn’t one of those things like, “Oh, I want to act so bad!” It was just something that caught on, to be honest.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What are your goals for the future, perhaps to pursue your musical career?
Tequan Richmond: Yeah, a little bit of music and get into producing. I’m actually working on music right now. As far as the acting world goes, it wasn’t always a passion of mine, and I’m not stuck with being an actor. I don’t have dreams of being a movie star, never did. But producing, directing or doing anything behind the camera, I love! I just love all of that kind of work. So that’s definitely in the future for me. I’m going to be on General Hospital for a few more years and hopefully for everything else as far as films go, I can fall behind the camera as well as in front of the camera.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You are a busy guy with General Hospital, your music and a new film. Do you have time for a love life?
Tequan Richmond: Yeah, definitely, I have a lot of time for a love life (laughs). I have a lot of time. There’s enough time for everybody (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You are a joy to speak with, Tequan. Continued success in everything you wish to accomplish.
Tequan Richmond: Thanks. I appreciate it.
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