ComingSoon senior editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Jessica Knight Henry about it loyalty and her portrayal of her grandparents, Jessie and Daisy Brown. The movie is now available on 4K, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.

Jonathan Majors (Creed III) and Glenn Powell (Top Gun: Maverick) stars in the epic and inspiring true story of two of the U.S. Navy’s elite fighter pilots who helped turn the tide in the most brutal battle of the Korean War: Jesse Brown, the first black pilot in Navy history and fellow fighter pilot and friend, Tom Hudner,” reads the synopsis for the film. “Their heroic sacrifice and enduring friendship would eventually make them the Navy’s most celebrated man.”

Spencer Legacy: What does it mean to your family that J.D. Dillard, the director, wanted to be involved with the project and reached out to you so early in the process?

Jessica Knight Henry: I think it was very important. Jesse’s story was very family-related and, frankly, very personal. The thought of a project being pursued without our involvement gave us a lot of anxiety. But [of] JD and his family background – his father was a pilot – it meant so much to him that we would be involved and really be able to understand what the family thought about this and guide us through the journey. So it really meant a lot and really helped develop the relationship, I think, [with] Entire loyalty The team, the cast, the crew. But she helped us all feel like family and when you share your personal family story, it means even so much more than that.

In speaking with Jonathan Majors, what was really special about his approach to getting to know Jesse and how he wanted to do legacy justice in the movie?

Jonathan is an incredible talent and he takes his work very seriously, diving deep into a role and really trying to embody it in some way. We were very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet two of Jesse’s brothers so early in the process. They weren’t there with us until the time the movie was finished, so I felt like we had their blessing and blessing from others. But he not only digs into what’s historically about my grandfather, but also makes sure he has those anecdotes from the family and digs into the letters.

[He] Really try to make sure that it brings the character of Jesse to life in a real, multi-dimensional way. Even after filming ended, we recently found a record of Jesse’s draft card that the family hadn’t seen before, and we were able to share it with him and he was just blown away. The fact that he was like, “Oh, I recognize his handwriting,” and that meant a lot to him. So even after we’re done, I think the character still means a lot and we’re grateful to have this relationship with him.

How did it feel to continue filming and watch the film being shot?

It was really surreal. I’ve had the opportunity to go down a few times with various family members and from understanding how to make a movie, which was just like in my head. But what it took to get those big warbirds out there and see the planes — and frankly, the set design was amazing. You’re on this runway on set and you’ll be able to see the level of detail and work that goes into it. But when you see the movie come together… I was with my nephew recently, and he’d say, “Oh my God, the scene where they’re making out on the bridge!” And it just happened to be like a crazy weather day in Georgia, so it worked out perfectly. So just being an insider… It was like being in Disneyland or something, but having it all come through and seeing it all come together was really cool.

Your grandmother, Daisy, is lovingly portrayed by Christina Jackson. How important is it to show her story, too?

So I will tell everyone – the most important character he has loyalty The team had to correct Daisy’s portrayal. With my grandfather, he was killed when my mom wasn’t even two years old, so we always had an idea of ​​who he was and based on the people who knew him, but that personal relationship didn’t really exist. But it was a different story with Daisy. I grew up with it. She was one of my biggest role models, and I am honored to be able to carry on the family legacy and that’s a lot of how I’ve seen her carry herself. So it was very important that they get that right. I couldn’t imagine a better actress coming along and playing my grandmother.

I think Christina is someone with such a huge amount of emotional intelligence, and she brought that and the care and the wit and the fun and all the things and all the stories and all the conversations we’ve had — everything, from seeing a nail polish color that I mentioned my grandmother loved in very casual conversation and seeing her wear in the movie. So those small details were just to be heard and heard. But I think, then, that it was very important for Daisy to be portrayed in the movie because Jesse was the first, but Daisy was also the first. I think the idea of ​​the military wife and that support and what it’s like to go through that and also be alone in pioneering in so many ways… We’d love to share a glimpse of her story on screen as well.

The dedication has received much praise, particularly for Majors’ performance, but what does it mean for millions to learn about your grandfather’s story?

It’s really hard. I think we always had this idea that Jesse and Tom’s story was deserving of that kind of tribute to it, but they’re your family, and again, we brought the story really close, so I definitely felt a lot of anxiety about, ‘What does this mean when more people know people about the story?” But just to make the heroes aware that they were and, frankly, the inspiration they bring… I’ve been very lucky all my life, and now even more so loyalty In the ecosystem, of people coming up to me and telling me how much it means to my grandfather and what he did and how he inspired them and they are now pilots, or leading this profession now because of the sacrifice he made.

I think it’s an important story for our country – especially at a time when things are fraught and divisive. Being able to share that on the world stage has been really important. They are beyond their due. They are humble individuals with passion and a dream. I think a lot of people can relate to just wanting to get out and do what they love.

I imagine the first time I saw the movie, it must have been pretty overwhelming. How did you and your family feel when you took all of this into consideration to appear on the big screen?

I cry every time I watch the movie, but that first time we started the movie was amazing, because it was just so many emotions and a long journey – not even just making a movie, but before that. Obviously, the book loyalty By Adam Makos, and a lot of time we spent with the Hudner family…it was almost a release. At that point you knew, “It’s going to be in the world. It’s okay, it’s great.”

But they did a good job and he’s emotional in a good way. It is truly cathartic and inspiring in so many ways. But I’ve been flying recently and I got to see him on a plane for the first time, which I think is a fitting method loyalty to be consumed. But knowing what’s going to happen a million times – and knowing the history and it’s based on historical events – but it still serves as a powerful punch and a reminder of what we lost when we lost Jesse. But, it’s very nice to memorialize that in the movie.

Even though the movie is set in the 1950s, the themes and fast food are still prevalent and important. Can you talk about the significance of that story being told today?

definitely. I think there are a number of themes throughout loyalty, but inspiration and, again, the ability to come from humble beginnings, to dare to dream of something big despite the challenges you face or may overcome. The idea of ​​leaving this lasting legacy and what it means for us to embrace our history and our past. But there are so many inspiring characters and the way we are united by commonalities and threads… There is more that brings us together than divides us.

So I hope these people realize that and that there is a lot of real value in knowing our full history and all the individuals who have contributed to this tapestry. loyalty It’s a good portrayal of that and the recognition of what they did at the time, to overcome norms and conventions to create real brotherhood – this friendship – and the heroes that they were. And they did it all for a country that they knew could be better and that was striving to be better. So it’s an amazing American story and we’re glad to be a small part of it and its tapestry will live on.


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