Now there’s a face I rarely see these days. I was just thinking about actor Mario Van Peebles the other day and reminiscing a bit his career. The last Van Peebles pic I saw was Baadasssss! in 2003 and now it just so happens to be a point of reference in the latest exclusive at Deadline regarding his newest starring/directing venture, Armed, which wrapped a little over a year ago.
The movie follows a former U.S. Marshall (Van Peebles) who has fallen on hard times after he led his undercover agents in a raid that went horribly wrong. Suffering extreme anxiety attacks, divorced and temporarily living at his successful brothers home, the Marshall literally runs into Grace, a beautiful, freespirited, self proclaimed tantric healer and erotic filmmaker. In spite of their differences, Grace finds a kindred spirit in the Marshall who she believes is in need of spiritual enlightenment. When his former right hand man Jonesie, the most lethal and dedicated member of his team shows up, things go sideways.
The film will be Van Peebles’s first time back on both sides of the lens as actor, producer and director. Aiming to craft a realistic and grounded thriller, Armed will reportedly focus its narrative with cues taken from real events that not only brings a closer look at what kind of people are allowed to own firearms, but also harnesses from previous discussions with the gun violence prevention movement amid his own research to understand the issues.
“We pulled from a lot of things around us,” Van Peebles tells The Hollywood Reporter, noting the real-life inspiration of the scenes ranged from the current debate of having people on no-fly lists being able to buy guns to the 2013 shootout in Big Bear, Calif., involving fired police officer Christopher Dorner.
“The character that I play is the guy that could be considered quite dangerous,” says Van Peebles. “And he’s able to get all these weapons. And one of the questions that we ask is the question of who do we allow to have weapons.”
Van Peebles says he’s not making a preachy film — “It’s not a political movie but a thriller,”…
“We went from the Huckstables to Obama, from Will & Grace to gay marriage. We can make cinema that makes people think,” says Van Peebles.
He adds: “We have people getting killed by toddlers — it’s hard not to be for some kind of gun control.”
Van Peebles stars opposite actor Ryan Guzman (Boy Next Door) who will portray Jonesie, and Jemma Dallender (Contract to Kill) will perform as Grace. Rounding out the cast will be William Fichtner (Independence Day), Rocsi Diaz, actress and recording artist V Bozeman (Empire) and actor Columbus Short (Scandal) with actress and TV host Rocsi Diaz, comedy talents – actors Paul Rodriguez, DC Young Fly and Earthquake, and political commentator Roland Martin with a featured performance by Dionne Warwick.
Richard Rionda Del Castro, CEO of Hannibal Classics, said, “I am delighted to work with Mario Van Peebles again. It has been the third time and it is always a pleasure working with great talents and filmmakers that we trust and respect. This time he brings us to a very unique humaine adventure that is very commercial and timely.”
“We are living in some strange times and we need to tell more stories reflecting that,” says producer Justin Nesbitt. “The film is actually inspired by real people and real events. Which makes this film alarmingly relevant, and I’m sure you’ll see why.”
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.