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Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, Jaylin Webb, Banks Repeta, Andrew Polk and more of the cast and crew of the film made their way to Alice Tully Hall to celebrate the New York premiere of their upcoming film, based on a true story from writer-director James Gray.
The film is set in 1980s Queens against the backdrop of a country going through an ominous sociopolitical change. It follows Jewish-American student Paul Graff (Repeta) and his friend Johnny (Webb), who is targeted by their racist teacher (Polk), as Paul finds himself at odds with his parents (Strong and Hathaway).
“I’m glad that we’re telling the story at this time because I think that in the past few years so many of us have developed a deeper and more nuanced and more sophisticated understanding of issues surrounding injustice — different kinds of racial injustice, gender injustice, class injustice,” Hathaway told The Hollywood Reporter. “I think we’re being more thoughtful about it, about those subjects those issues, those realities.”
Polk and Gray agree that one of the takeaways from the film is the importance of showing children moral and ethical teachings at a young age.
“We try to have them find it for themselves, but that’s not the way it works,” Gray told THR on the carpet.
Polk added, “There’s the image of polarization in our country, and, really, when you’re a kid at 12, and you’re being asked to see the world for the first time — see race for the first time, see your position, whatever privilege you have: a tendency if you’re white or a middle-class Jewish family, which is projected here — then being asked to make a moral choice about where you stand on these things at a young age, I think is really important.”
The actor reached out to people he knows who attended the school, P.S. 173, in Queens in the ’80s to see if they had met Mr. Turkletaub, the teacher he plays in Armageddon Time, and surprisingly enough, his friend and fellow actor Amy Ryan was one of Turkletaub’s students. She recalled learning from him in school and even sent Polk a photo of him with several students.
Webb, who takes on the role of Johnny, thinks this story could’ve been told at any point and still resonated somehow.
“Racism now is just as bad as it was back in the ’80s,” Webb told THR. “I feel like people need to know racism and discrimination against Black people and against Jewish people. This movie really does show how unfair it was.”
Gray wrote the script in 2019 in an effort to try to express himself personally in the most honest way, as the world around him changed.
“I saw that our struggle with democracy and for democracy is not over,” Gray told THR about his desire to tell this story. “Sometimes you have to look backwards to look forwards.”
Armageddon Time hits theaters Oct. 28.
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