Gabrielle Union on playing a homophobe: ‘I can only hope to be a realistic enough mirror’

Plus: Union’s Inspection costar Jeremy Pope, the latest on the Oscar race, and more on the new episode of EW’s Awardist podcast.

Joshua Rothkopf, senior movies editor at EW

There’s nothing like an edgy indie film to burnish a different side of a performer, one we haven’t seen often — or ever.

Case in point: A24’s The Inspection, a military basic-training drama that invites Gabrielle Union to do some of the most breathtaking work of her career, playing a disapproving mother who can’t bring herself to be happy for her son, now a Marine with a new sense of purpose, but still gay and out.

“I can only hope to be a realistic enough mirror for folks to see themselves and not like it — and change course,” Union, 50, tells EW’s Awardist podcast in a fascinating interview that has the Bring It On star going deep on her choice to play a hateful yet complex character, and the work she did to get there as an actor.

The Inspection In Elegance Bratton’s deeply moving film inspired by his own story, a young, gay Black man, rejected by his mother and with few options for his future, decides to join the Marines, doing whatever it takes to succeed in a system that would cast him aside. But even as he battles deep-seated prejudice and the grueling routines of basic training, he finds unexpected camaraderie, strength, and support in this new community, giving him a hard-earned sense of belonging that will shape his identity and forever change his life.

Gabrielle Union and Jeremy Pope in ‘The Inspection’

| Credit: A24

Based on the real-life experiences of writer-director Elegance Bratton, The Inspection also inspires a deep commitment from its lead, 30-year-old Jeremy Pope, who joins the podcast as well this week, sharing his thoughts with EW’s Dave Karger on shooting the film’s more confrontational moments.

“[Elegance] would call cut, but my body wouldn’t know to cut it, because I’m in this dark space,” Pope says. “And that is what it is. That’s a part of the craft, part of being an artist.”

You can listen to our full interviews with Union and Pope in the podcast episode below. Plus check out the full episode to hear Team Awardist’s thoughts on James Cameron‘s chances of making the Best Director bracket with Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis star Austin Butler‘s SNL bounce, and the potentially loaded Best Song category (which, never mind the Oscars, would make for a great concert in itself). We are now in the thick of it, folks, so strap in.

Check EW’s The Awardistfeaturing exclusive interviews, analysis, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year’s best in movies.

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