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Laz Alonso talks Straw Dog


Laz Alonso is a charismatic and erudite actor who has played in countless films such as “Jumping the Broom,” “Avatar,” and now will be co-starring in the highly anticipated film “Straw Dogs,” which will be released in theaters September 16.

Daood talked with Alonso about his new role.

Daood: Congratulations on the strong supporting role of “Sheriff John Burke” in Rod Lurie’s remake of the Sam Peckinpah classic “Straw Dogs,” for Sony Screen Gems.

Laz Alonso: Thanks. It’s a very intense film that in a lot of ways was over the top because of a lot of the scenarios that take place; it just reminds us as human beings how we can sometimes let little things get a lot bigger than they truly should, or need to be. The movie is not a direct remake; it has been modernized and adjusted for today’s times so the story is a little different. I play Sheriff John Burke, and for me more than anything it was mastering the southern accent; trying my best to be as legitimate and authentic as possible.

Daood: Could you explain the title of the film?

Laz Alonso: The “Straw Dog,” I believe comes from Asia. I believe it’s a Chinese ceremony, where for a week they make these straw dogs out of hay and they worship them; and they give them offerings and pray to them; and at the end of the week they just kind of discard them and throw them out in the street; and they become just mean nothing, trash. It’s used to equate to where we set our movie which is down south and how important high school football is down south; and how a lot of these kids become celebrities at a very young age. But, once their high school football days are over, they’re pretty much forgotten about. Nobody really cares about them. People end up cheering for the next set of high school stars. The previous batch is like an afterthought.
So, it’s a very humbling place for a child to have to realize that in some cases, their best years were in high school and now for the rest of their lives, they don’t have an identity. So, that’s what our version of this movie focuses on; these ex-football players who now are “Straw Dogs,” in their community and are pretty bitter about it.

Daood: So when you were working on “Straw Dogs,” do you recall what particular music you were listening to?

Alonso: When I was working on “Straw Dogs,” I was listening to a lot of Ray Charles. I like the story of how Ray Charles had to maneuver within the South; during those hard times. When you see “Straw Dogs,” I’m the only Black character in an all-White town. So, he’s an outcast just by the nature of his ethnicity. Not to mention he’s the one voice of reason in a very aggressive town in a very hostile place. So, it was the kind of music that reminded me of where we were at the time; the river the people … it just fit.

By Daood the Soul Detective