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Review: Kelvin Harrison Jr. Is Beyond Phenomenal In ‘Chevalier’



Simply put, Kelvin Harrison Jr. is phenomenal in Chevalier.

We screened the film in Toronto during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival and were blown away by the actor’s performance. Since, we’ve been anxiously awaiting the film’s release and the opportunity to speak with Harrison Jr. about the role.

The film, directed by Stephen Williams is based on composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner, who rises to heights in French society as a composer before an ill-fated love affair.

Over the past 200-plus years, Bologne’s life story and impressive body of work have been buried and lost to time. Harrison told HipHollywood the chance to bring this story to light intrigued him most — as did the chance to play the violin and learn how to fence.

“There was a black man in a wig playing a violin and fencing. I thought this was going to be pretty fun to play,” he joked. “I played with the violin when I was seven, and I did that for a little bit, and then obviously, I played, like, piano and trumpet. I say obviously as if everyone knows that. But I played piano and trumpet for most of my life until I started acting.”

The News Orleans native actually grew up playing jazz and gospel on the piano and trumpet, as well as singing thanks to his musician parents. His father trained under Ellis Marsalis and encouraged him to pursue a career in music until acting stole his attention.

Naturally his musical acumen and skill level make his performance as the violin virtuoso that much more powerful and believable. But it is also how Harrison handles Bologne’s personal struggles with racism and classism at the height of the French Revolution that has us singing his praises.

“Actors love character roles. I specifically love a character role. And when you get into the research, you get blown away by what this man was able to accomplish under the circumstances that he existed,” said Harrison Jr. who admitted he got choked up during his final performance scene.

“It’s just the overwhelming nature of having a community that wants to see you, that wants to root for you, be there to support you. And it feels so good to be in your place. It feels so good to be yourself and doing the thing you love versus doing it to appease other people and making it so transactional. I did almost cry a few times. But Steven didn’t want too many tears.”

Chevalier, also starring Samara Weaving, Minnie Driver and Ronke Adekoluejo, is in theaters now.

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