Winston Duke Experienced Quarantine (in Character) Before COVID-19

Winston Duke
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In Sony Pictures Classics' Nine Days, Winston Duke portrays Will, a man whose job it is to evaluate souls to be born, then watches lives unfold through small screens while sequestered in a desert home.

It's an experience he figured would be over once the film wrapped. "I thought I would be able to shed that character and go back to regular life. Six months later, we were back at it," he said on Sunday during AFI Fest's Indie Contenders panel moderated by The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg.

Now the task, he said, is to avoid the traps and fatigue of these turbulent times while also processing the horrors of seeing men like George Floyd die as well as close friends. (Duke’s Black Panther co-star Chadwick Boseman passed away from cancer Aug. 28.) "In the past nine months, I've watched a man die in seven minutes being choked onscreen and watched it over and over and over again. I've suffered losses in family and close friends and still try to ground myself in the fact that it's really beautiful to just be alive."

Winston, joined on the panel by Elisabeth Moss, Riz Ahmed, Julia Garner, Carey Mulligan, Andy Samberg, Rachel Brosnahan and Vanessa Kirby, said he's found beauty in walks, bike rides, beach sunsets, sleeping and waking up. "Finding love for the moment and the love for being present without it hurting too much," he explains. "Because being able to be hurt is also the pleasure of being here."

A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.