John Boyega and the makers of 'Breaking' on telling such an intense true story

Yahoo Entertainment's Kevin Polowy sat down with two of the stars, the writer and the director of 'Breaking,' to discuss just how intense it was making this film about a true story.

Video transcript

- Who's in charge here?

- Well, she is. But we're both--

- I am-- I'm the manager. Estel Valerie.

- Estel, once they leave, you lock the front of back doors, you understand me?

KEVIN POLOWY: How did you guys first discover the story of Brian Brown-Easley? And what intrigued you about setting a film around his story and him as a character?

ABI DAMARIS CORBIN: When I first heard about Brian's story, I was overtaken by it. It pierced my soul. My dad's a veteran so I was able to understand what he went through with the veteran's affairs, so much better through Brian's eyes. So I reached out to Kwame and said, hey, can we do this right? Can we do this honestly?

KWAME KWEI-ARMAH: Abi reached out to me. And it was the integrity of the reporting around it in that article that we read. And the integrity of Abi's intentions into telling a story that was true, something that she had some personal experience of that made me want to-- you know, down tools and just run with this.

KEVIN POLOWY: Obviously, casting was so essential, especially for the role of Brian. How did you guys know John Boyega would be so ripe for this role?

ABI DAMARIS CORBIN: He's a man of immense, immense talent and craft. And if you watch his work, it's clear he has a lot to give. And wow, did he give in this role. It's unmissable. It's a role that makes you laugh and cry in the same couple of beats by the way that he is able to convey the heart of the man.

KWAME KWEI-ARMAH: He surpassed expectations for me. I've seen John do brilliant work. But this was a deeper cut than I have seen before. So it's really easy to pat oneself on the back and say, yeah, yeah, we knew it was John and John was gonna be brilliant. But I didn't know he was gonna be this good.




- I'm sorry. OK?

- This is Sergeant Bernard. Is everyone all right in there?

- As long as everybody stays calm, nobody gets hurt.

KEVIN POLOWY: I mean John, how intense was this experience for you compared to anything else you've done, you know, to date?

JOHN BOYEGA: Well, definitely once the cameras were rolling it was definitely intense and continuous because it's based in one place. Gives you that same intensity that you get when you're doing more stage work, more theater work. And at the same time, I think the story itself kind of supports that intensity in the fact that it's one man that comes into an environment and changes the energy of the environment. That, in itself, it just all added up to make quite an intense experience.

But I feel like while that intensity is going on, I felt like a freedom, like if I would call it, kind of like a free dance within just acting. You know, I hadn't felt that way since I'd been in drama school, you know?

NICOLE BEHARIE: On day one, I was blown away by the work that John did and all the energy. He came so prepared. And also, I think his turnaround was really-- it was really fast. It was really tight. It made my job a lot easier, especially when there are the turns with the characters, when she starts to realize that like there's more going on with him. And when she says, you know, I care about what your situation is. He makes that really easy.

KEVIN POLOWY: I've seen your performance called Denzelian, as in the legend himself, Denzel Washington. Do you do you embrace this? Is Denzel a big influence on you?

JOHN BOYEGA: I'm not involved in that conversation. Like, you know, I'm just-- that's-- if that's what they see, then you know, that's all blessing them. Denzel was one-- is one of the best actors in the industry, and I just started out. So for me, I don't have-- I haven't got the time or the stripes to be able to even involve myself in such a conversation.

KEVIN POLOWY: Yeah. But you'll accept it. You'll accept it.

JOHN BOYEGA: Mate, I will definitely thank God for such an opportunity.

KEVIN POLOWY: I love that people are calling his performance Denzelian.


ABI DAMARIS CORBIN: I saw it trended on Twitter.


ABI DAMARIS CORBIN: I was like, what? John is Denzel is trending, OK.

KWAME KWEI-ARMAH: [LAUGHS] I didn't know that. I've missed that bit. That's hilarious.

- The VA stole my disability check from me.

- I've had some problems with Veteran Affairs, myself. How about you release one of those ladies?

- No. I need everybody to see what's happening here.

KEVIN POLOWY: Military veteran care has been in the news a lot recently, as we saw the Senate kind of dragging their feet on passing the PACT bill. We saw Jon Stewart out there very openly, very publicly fighting for it. Do you guys see this movie as a plea, in any way, that we need to take better care of our veterans?

ABI DAMARIS CORBIN: Very much so. And also, beyond that. My dad's been waiting in those same lines for a long time, the same lines that veterans were in front of the White House a couple of weeks back, all night sitting there with their candles just praying that there'll be a breakthrough, that there'll be an opening, that the bureaucracy will get out of the way and that the hearts of the matter, and the words will match the actions.

I'm hopeful that watching our film will allow people to hear those pleas. Not just let them go past their ears, but hear them. Hear them in their soul. And that kind of hearing allows people to act.

NICOLE BEHARIE: I think the timing is amazing, you know? I think the timing is amazing and I really hope it has an effect. I really do.

JOHN BOYEGA: I think it should have an effect and definitely to spark conversation, accurate conversation, too, would be something that's important and very positive for what's going on right now.