Taraji P. Henson is Mary, a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston, whose life is completely turned around when she crosses paths with a young boy while doing a job. Screen Gems’ action thriller, Proud Mary, stars Taraji P. Henson, as Mary, with Billy Brown, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Neal McDonough, Margaret Avery, Xander Berkeley and Danny Glover. Henson, acclaimed for such diverse roles as Katherine Johnson in the Oscar®- nominated Hidden Figures, Cookie Lyon on Fox TV’s “Empire” (Golden Globe-winning and Emmy®- nominated performance) and Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Oscar®- nominated performance), adds an indelible portrayal to her resume as the fierce and beautiful Mary.
A NEW TARAJI
Known for portraying characters as diverse as the brilliant, stalwart Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures and the brilliantly tenacious Cookie Lyon on Empire, Taraji P. Henson describes how she “grabbed the chance to play Mary. I don’t want to repeat characters,” she says. “I played a sniper and cops and detectives, but I never played a hit woman—and that’s very different. Mary is a close-range, hired killer—she’s not ex-military or a street thug. In an elevator she might be all ‘Hi, how are you? Those are nice shoes. Have a great day,’ and five steps out the building its pop, pop,” she laughs. “It’s fun and it’s very different because people always see me as nurturing and natural. This woman knows nothing about mothering—and here she ends up with this kid. “Taraji is fantastic in the role,” lauds producer Paul Schiif. “She’s so feisty, funny and powerful and she’s just a really fine actress. Even though I’ve been working on this script and thinking about this character for a long time, during production I had the pleasure of being surprised every day by her interpretation of Mary—fresh, entertaining and surprising and always with a real beat on her humanity. I hope her fans see a version of Taraji that they didn’t expect, especially if they come in thinking they knew everything they could know. Part of the balance of the movie comes from believing that this character really walks in the world—that it’s not complete fantasy, and Taraji plays Mary in a way that you believe that this isn’t an action figure kind of role, some paramilitary fantasy. She’s a real person picked up off the street and trained to kill, but she doesn’t have superpowers. She’s not flying on a wire and doing things that defy physics.” “This role is so different from anything she’s ever done,” notes Jahi Di’Allo Winston who plays Danny, “but if you look at her career from Baby Boy to Empire—all of the roles that she’s chosen to play are so completely different. Her career is just very smart. Here she’s bringing everything to the table with Mary’s strength and vulnerability and what’s so interesting about Taraji is that she could be crying and bawling in a scene and the next moment she’s running around the set, doing something crazy. She’s just really fun to watch, but she always tells me to never study her (because she’s so rambunctious). We have a unique relationship: she 5 won’t say, ‘you’re so good, so talented,’ but she will tell me ‘you did really good work yesterday’ only after we wrap—because she’s afraid I’ll get too much of a big head.” “Taraji has this terrific energy,” says Margaret Avery, “I like the fact that she’s tough. We see that in Empire—everybody’s in love with Cookie. But her characterization of Mary is different because she gets pretty cold in this. I like seeing a woman play a different role, the way men do, and Taraji makes this nice transition—revealing the vulnerable, sensitive part of the character. I don’t think we’ve seen that tough gun-packing woman since Pam Grier. From my era, I can compare Mary to Pam Grier—tough, sexy and lethal.
Proud Mary premieres on January 12th in theaters worldwide. Check out Taraji as she lights up the screen making every woman of color around the world feel like Proud Mary.