Trophy Talk

Sterling K. Brown Talks American Fiction and His Comic Book Aspirations on The Awards Tour Podcast

The Emmy-winner BREAKS DOWN highlights from his Filmography and if Jon Stewart from the Green Lantern Corps is in his future.

by | January 5, 2024 | Comments


We recently sat down with Emmy-winner Sterling K. Brown to discuss his latest project, American Fiction. Showcasing his incomparable range yet again, the actor who brought us to tears as Randall Pearson on This Is Us takes us in an entirely new direction as Thelonious “Monk” Ellison’s (Jeffrey Wright) hilarious “hot mess” younger brother Cliff. Divorced, recently outed as gay, and with his life in shambles, Cliff is heartbreaking, heartfelt, and yet still fly – giving new meaning to what it means to exist as a man with no F’s left to give.

Jacqueline Coley for Rotten Tomatoes: American Fiction caps off a likely intentional run over the past five years of less “serious” roles for you. Was that a conscious choice to avoid melodrama for a while and lean into funnier things on our side of This Is Us

Sterling K. Brown: I think so. I mean, you can only make people cry so much before you start to wonder, “Am I doing a good thing? Do I need to bring balance to the force?” I know I’m humorous, and I have a sense of humor. I like to share that with people. As much as I love to share my sense of pathos with people, I think even if you pay attention to Randall, he’s pretty funny, too. Sometimes his humor comes out of pain or a desire to be wanted or needed and make himself bigger so that he doesn’t feel as if someone can discard him. But sometimes, it’s just good to make people laugh. It’s good to allow people to release, and that release can happen through tears. It can happen through laughter, I’m sure, and many other ways. But those are the two that I know we tend to elicit in terms of this art form. And I love when folks come up to me, and they say, like, “Dude, that was really funny.”

RT: I think the first time most folks saw you lean into the comedy with SNL and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Those two moments seemed so singular in their efforts, but when I was getting ready for this interview, many people talked about that, if they didn’t mention This is Us.

Brown: SNL was a blast!! And it’s a war, too, because I think the secret of anybody that does it is that they make you so tired that by the time you’re on Saturday night, you’re like, “Okay, let’s just go. Let’s just make it happen.” Literally, you stay in lines, and you finish. A woman grabs your arm, pulls you off stage, and people just start undressing you and putting on clothes, and you’re like, “All right, go.” And you’re like, “OK, where are the cue cards?” But that sort of energy, because being on stage or whatnot, you get sort of caught up in the energy in the audience, etc., and knowing you can just feel the spirits of everybody else that has been on that stage throughout history. It’s like, God dang, I get to be up here where Eddie was. It was awesome.

Watch the video for the full interview with Sterling K. Brown.

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