‘I’m A Virgo’ Star Jharrel Jerome, Team On Magic Of Illusion And Solving Math Problems

‘I’m A Virgo’ Star Jharrel Jerome, Team On Magic Of Illusion And Solving Math Problems

“Definitely the most challenging thing I’ve had to do thus far as an actor, a lot of mental gymnastics involved,” Jharrel Jerome admits about the uniqueness of his role in the Boots Riley-created absurdist series I’m A Virgo, on which he plays a previously extremely sheltered 13-foot-tall Oakland teen. “At no point do I look my scene partners in the eye, and as an actor that’s so critical, you know, as connection.”

Jerome, an Emmy winner for When They See Us, was joined by Riley and co-stars Olivia Washington and Walton Goggins, plus costume designer Deirdra E. Govan, for a conversation about their series at Deadline Studio at Prime Experience.

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Watch the interview here and see photos from the event below.

Launched in June 2023 with all seven episodes, the small-screen debut of Coup frontman and Sorry to Bother You director Riley is a true display of originality in an analogue and Situationist spirit that “never turns away from what it is to be young and Black in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave,” as I said in my review of the Prime Video series last year.

“I think the magic of what really brought me to this project was the idea of not using CGI or special effects, because that in itself is requiring a lot for the actor,” Jerome says. “And there’s no rulebook on it, right, there’s no way to do it right. There was, we were all running on the set.

“Honestly, after this everything’s going be easy,” the actor and executive producer adds to laughter from his colleagues.

Amidst the political and social aspects of I’m a Virgo, which was tied for my top show of 2023 with the final season of Reservation Dogs, the power of illusion and visual reality was in many ways a character unto itself — especially Govan’s costume design.

“Spending time with the actors in the fitting room is my process,” said Govan, whose credits include Sorry to Bother You and Harlem. “That is my time to not only gain their trust, but also really listen to what they are tapping into and how they’re going to inhabit the skin of these characters.”

“I’ve often shared that this production is one big math problem,” she says with a bit of grin, but a seriousness as well. “For me, it was very much a colleague mixture … it’s that freeform kind of thinking,” Govan adds.

“What we should know is that the clothes were a big part of the effects,” Riley says of the pivotal role the costumes played in enabling the sense of scale, both for Jerome’s character Cootie as well as everyone else in I’m a Virgo‘s world. “It’s half the trick of what’s happening on screen.”

Along with Jerome, Washington and Goggins (who also stars in Prime Video’s Fallout), I’m a Virgo features two-time Tony nominee Kara Young, Carmen Ejogo, Mike Epps, Brett Gray and Kendrick Sampson. Elijah Wood makes a guest appearance as do the voices of Danny Glover, Joel Edgerton, Juliette Lewis and philosopher/cultural theorist Slavoj Žižek.

For more Deadline Studio at Prime Experience content, click here.

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