In the forthcoming J.D. Dillard-directed aerial war epic, Devotion, Lovecraft Country and The Harder They Fall star Jonathan Majors stars as esteemed naval aviator Jesse Brown.
Set some time in the 1940s, the film centers around Brown’s true story of beating the odds to become the best pilot the branch had ever seen, where he eventually earned the Distinguished Flying Cross among other honors. The aforementioned feats were undoubtably a mind-boggling thing to accomplish, especially given the fact that this all transpired years before the Civil Rights movement began and the contributions of African-Americans often went under-appreciated, under-valued, and unseen by the mainstream.
Sitting down with The Root to chat about the film ahead of it’s release, Majors reflected on that notion, calling back to a heartwarming scene in the film where other Black sailors in the Navy gift Brown a new Rolex watch in an effort to show their support and celebrate what his presence means to them. The Da 5 Bloods star then shared a personal anecdote to further illustrate the importance and impact of being truly seen and valued.
“I was on the corner in New York with my trainer and we were just kind of running around. And there was a guy—he was a street cleaner. He was a brother. Rough, just tough, you know, that type of guy,” Majors explained. “And he rolled up by me and he looked at me and goes, ‘You Jonathan Majors?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And he goes, ‘Boy, I love you. You keep doing that work. You that actor, right? Yeah, you keep doing that. I see you, boy. I see you.’ And when I tell you, my heart just went ‘BOOF.’ We work so hard, don’t we? And all we want is community. All you want is love and respect and esteem.”
Majors went on to explain how the aspect of taking a moment to acknowledge someone’s presence is rare in a world where those minute yet meaningful moments with one another are all but fleeting. Then, in an attempt to actively practice what he just discussed, he breaks from our interview to acknowledge and thank a silent off-camera worker who’d been in the room with him all day.
“It does something. It let’s you know ‘I count.’ At least in this moment, it means everything. It gives fuel. And it was that moment, the giving of the Rolex, where Jesse goes, ‘Fuck it. It’s on’ That’s the rebirth,” Majors concluded.
Devotion hits theaters everywhere Wednesday, Nov. 23.