The "Wonderful Quartet" in 'One Night in Miami': 'THR Presents' Q&A With Director Regina King, Writer Kemp Powers and the Film's 4 Stars

Along with actors Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge and Leslie Odom Jr., King references the close quarters built for her directorial debut that the previously unknown-to-each-other actors and crew worked in: “If we kept it the actual size of the Hampton House, we would have suffocated."

The Hollywood Reporter’s Mia Galuppo sat down with director Regina King, screenwriter Kemp Powers and stars Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge and Leslie Odom Jr. to discuss their Amazon Studios film, One Night in Miami, in a THR Presents Q&A powered by Vision Media.

Powers’ stage play, on which the film is based, takes place strictly in a room at the Hampton House, the historic hotel in still-segregated 1960s Miami where Malcolm X and Cassius Clay stayed prior to the latter's fight with Sonny Liston. While King’s film adaption expanded the story to include several other locations, like the hotel’s roof and the arena where Clay fought Liston, the majority of the film’s scenes that involve its central cast— Clay (Goree), Malcolm X (Ben-Adir), Jim Brown (Hodge) and Sam Cooke (Odom Jr.) — take place in that one room.

“If we kept it the actual size of the Hampton House, we would have suffocated!" said King with a laugh.

Powers also remembered the set — which was built on a soundstage in New Orleans, where a coat of paint on the room's wood paneling was still drying the night before filming — being a tight squeeze. On the first day of production he found himself backed into a corner, literally. “Leslie is doing ‘Put Me Down Easy’ on the bed and all of us are standing in the corner," he recalled. "It’s like the grips, the boom mic operator, me, the producers are all grouped in the corner.”

“We used every single corner. We discovered corners that we didn’t think we would need to go back to," King added.

For her own creative process, King had to come up with an explanation as to why the room seen in the movie is not historically accurate. “I created this idea in my head that the Hampton House made a suite out of two rooms for important people that come to stay — like Malcolm X,” she explained.

Prior to being thrown in that room together, the film’s four main stars “did not know each other, at all,” according to Ben-Adir, with no time for rehearsal save for a single table read prior to production. “To create that chemistry with strangers, the whole moviemaking process was like an extended rehearsal,” explains the actor, who notes that King’s background as a performer came through in her direction. “Because we had Regina we were able to trust and let go fully.”

Added King: "The wonderful quartet of musicians understood that we only have this much time to make this song sing."

THR Presents film screenings are powered by Vision Media; additional Q&As and other supplementary content can be viewed in THR’s new public hub at THRPresents.HollywoodReporter.com.