Check out episode twenty-six of Richard’s web series, “In Isolation With…” It’s the talk show where we make a connection without actually making contact! Today, broadcasting directly from Isolation Studios (a.k.a. my home office), we meet an actor who won an Academy Award winning role for playing Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in the film An Officer and a Gentleman and an Emmy Award for his role as Fiddler in the television miniseries Roots. From Broadway Louis Gossett Jr made the movie to film, starring in A Raisin in the Sun in 1961, and has been busy ever since. With nearly 70 years as an actor and activist under his belt, he’s still working, starring on the critically acclaimed television series Watchmen and starring in a new film called The Cuban.
In it he plays an elderly man in the late stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. Nearly catatonic, he is non-communicative, staring blankly into space, until his nurse hums a familiar jazz tune. He responds, and soon she creates her own brand of musical therapy to help Luis remember his past. And what a past. He tells her of his career as a famous musician in Cuba and the love of his life Elana.
Louis Gossett Jr., who is silent for much of the running time, finds multitudes in the character. The character’s life is scarred by loss and loneliness, and he carries that with him, but the sheer joy that he exudes when he hears or makes music shows the profound effect it has had on his life. The actor finds poignancy in the performance and never overdoes it.
The Cuban is a testament to the healing power of music and friendship and kicks off a Canada-wide drive-in theatre summer tour on Tuesday the 28th at the 5 Drive-In in Oakville. Check local listings for a location near you.
Let’s get to know Louis Gossett Jr.