Playing the role of rookie cop Alicia West in Sony’s upcoming action thriller Black and Blue was a no-brainer for Naomie Harris. After all, the young officer has a lot of qualities that the London-born actress admires: She’s brave, poised in the face of danger, and always willing to lend support — even when the person in need is a strong man like costar Tyrese Gibson.
In the Deon Taylor-directed film, Alicia inadvertently witnesses the murder of a drug dealer at the hands of corrupt cops and captures the crime on her body camera. She then teams up with the only person she can trust, Milo “Mouse” Jackson (Gibson), to try to get the footage into the right hands, and stay alive.
As you can see in these exclusive first-look photos of Harris and Gibson, they’re ready for action — even with trouble ahead.
“Alicia is pretty badass! She’s fierce and capable, strong, and independent. She’s the kind of woman that I love portraying,” Harris tells EW. “Tyrese’s character is not used to handling weapons; he’s not a trained police officer in the way that Alicia is. Ultimately, he is of use to her during the escape scene when they’re being chased. But she definitely has the upper hand, she’s more skilled in what she’s doing.”
Speaking of her costar, Harris adds, “Isn’t it great how Tyrese threw his hat into the ring, saying that he’s down for this? That he can handle being protected by a strong woman. I think it speaks volumes about the kind of man that he is.”
Harris hopes audiences will be proud to see a strong black female lead like Alicia on screen; growing up, the Moonlight star didn’t often see those types of women represented in movies or television.
“I’m a black woman, and I want to represent black women in a positive light,” she explains. “I was brought up by a single parent. She was and still is a strong, powerful, and capable woman. I grew up in a community of women who were like that. What I felt growing up is that I didn’t see that strength represented in the media. So I’ve made it my mission to play women who were like the women I knew growing up.”
The “Bond 25” star also says she learned a lot from playing Alicia. She thought she had figured out the character at first glance, but going on the journey opened her eyes to so much more.
“I start each new role thinking, ‘Okay, I got this. I know what the challenge with this particular character is going to be,’” Harris says. “And it always surprises me because it never is the thing that you think it’s going to be.”
With Alicia, she says, “I thought it was going to be her next-level toughness that was going to be the biggest challenge for me, but it wasn’t, actually. It was her vulnerability. Her toughness is a mask for all the stuff that’s going on internally, that hasn’t been resolved in her own life from her childhood, like having lost her mother. It was that underlying vulnerability that I found difficult to play and then layer on top of that with her strength. I loved taking on that challenge, because it stretched me out in a way that I hadn’t been stretched before.”
Black and Blue hits theaters Oct. 25.