The remake of the classic 1977 miniseries, Roots, is scheduled to premiere tonight [Monday, May 30] on the History Channel.
Starring Malachi Kirby, Anika Noni Rose, Laurence Fishburne, and Forest Whitaker, the reboot also features T.I., who is reuniting with producer Will Packer, plays “Cyrus.”
“Cyrus,” a slave fighting for freedom in the Union Army, was initially a no go for T.I., who stated in an interview with Rolling Stone that his apprehension stemmed from two concerns, including his reluctance “to remake something so significantly relevant to so many generations and not nail it.” On the other end, as a performer, he knew this would be a particularly challenging role, so he also stalled at the thought of “not wanting to endure the conditions that I knew would have to be endured to actually execute it properly.”
Although initially timid, T.I. signed on to participate in the historical retelling of how Africans were brought to America as slaves and were forced to fight for their freedom. T.I., who is no stranger to flexing his muscle on the big screen, found himself connecting deeply with Cyrus and prepared for the role by inserting himself in the mind of “someone who would do anything for freedom,” and pulling from his past experiences of being incarcerated.
“I do know what it’s like to have your freedom be taken from you or to not have it be available to you,” T.I. told the Huffington Post. “I kind of amplified my thoughts and how I felt when my freedom was separate and apart from me. So I kind of took that and pushed upon it, because Cyrus is actually thee most rebellious and non-subservient character that there is. You never see Cyrus in ‘Roots’ as a slave, he’s always a runaway slave – running, dodging bullets and doing whatever it takes to maintain his freedom. So it wasn’t as slave written as the rest of the characters, but I think all of the characters collectively to the story are important.”
In addition to mental preparation, T.I. also revealed he identified with his character’s stubbornness, ambition, bullheadedness, and resilience.“The only thing that made his life worth living was the thought of the opportunity to be free and have something he never had before in life.”
In regards to the cultural significance of the mini series, T.I. hopes this will be the start for many to start learning about themselves.
“The quest for truth should be a lifelong journey,” T.I. continued. “From the time you’re born to the time you die, you’re supposed to be seeking knowledge and truth. This is a piece of it. This is a huge, huge chapter, so I think it’s incredibly important.”