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Come Away: David Oyelowo Talks Importance Of Diversifying Classic Stories

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David Oyelowo Dishes On Working With Angelina Jolie And Diversifying Classic Stories

David Oyelowo has long been a champion for diversity on film. So it’s no surprise the British-American actor is starring in and producing the new fantasy film Come Away.

Directed by Brenda Chapman (“Brave”), the movie re-imagines classics “Peter Pan” and “Alice in Wonderland” — not only making Peter and Alice brother and sister, but also black. According to Oyelowo who plays their father Jack, they didn’t set out initially to make a black version of those films.

“I have to say unexpectedly, the script wasn’t written specifically to include people that look like us,” he explained, “But when Brenda Chapman approached me about it, it was obvious and evident that Peter and Alice were going to be people of color and considering that this is a fictional fantasy fairytale that so many of us have grown up loving but not necessarily seeing ourselves represented in, it was just an added freshness.”

From left, Keira Chansa, David Oyelowo, Reece Yates and Jordan A. Nash in “Come Away.”Credit…Alex Bailey/Relativity Media

The story takes place in the English countryside, where craftsman Jack (Oyelowo) and his wife Rose (Angelina Jolie) live in a quaint cottage with three children. Peter (Jordan A. Nash) and Alice (Keira Chansa) exercise their active imaginations in the woods, where they pretend to shoot arrows and cross swords in combat. As children, they share an idyllic life, until a family tragedy prompts them to retreat into their respective fantasy lands — Neverland and Wonderland.

As for Jolie, Oyelowo told us it seemed like a natural fit for her to play his wife — especially since they both have a house full of kids who often get together for play dates.

“We actually met at a birthday party several years ago and we bonded over the fact that we both have a bunch of kids, I have four, she has six,” he laughed.  “We would have these playdates where all 10 of them would run around tearing up the house … so when this script came along it became a very natural thing to approach her and say ‘look this kind of represents what we have been talking about in our conversation as parents’ … and within four days of reading the script she signed on. ”

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