Films

You should probably get to know… Brian Tyree Henry

Posted by
Dave Fawbert
Published
Bryan Tyree Henry

The star of Atlanta on his busiest ever year and the enigma of Donald Glover

Age: 

36

Where you know him from:

As Alfred ‘Paper Boi’ Miles in Donald Glover’s cult hit Atlanta.

How he got his big break:

Henry was in the original cast of The Book Of Mormon. “We won nine Tony awards! I was in that cast for three years. But now I’m on Broadway doing straight theatre.”

What’s the play about?

“It’s called Lobby Hero and I work with Chris Evans and Michael Cera. It takes place in a hotel lobby – a woman is murdered, which causes all these racial and societal tensions. It’s 20 years old but still feels so relevant.”

On juggling a TV show and a run on Broadway:

“That’s nothing. I’ve got seven movies out this year!”

His 2018 in a nutshell:

A Netflix film featuring Gugu Mbatha-Raw; Hotel Artemis alongside Jodie Foster and Jeff Goldblum; Steve McQueen’s Widows with Daniel Kaluuya; a voice part in animated Spider-Man film Into The Spiderverse; White Boy Rick with Matthew McConaughey; Barry Jenkins’ highly anticipated If Beale Street Could Talk – and sinister sci-fi horror Only You at the end of the year. Phew. “I know! I just wanted to show people all my layers.”

On juggling a TV show with a run on Broadway and seven films:

“Everything fulfils me in a different way. What excites me is the chance to show people all these different sides to me. They rarely allow black actors the chance to explore that.”

Why Atlanta got a name change for Season 2:

“The full title is Atlanta Robbin’ Season. It’s named after a certain time of year where things in Atlanta get a little darker. It’s closer to the holidays, crime has spiked a little more, people are getting dropped. All the characters find themselves in equally tense, more desperate situations this year.”

What the locals thought of Atlanta’s success:

“The city welcomed us, but shit was real – we filmed during robbin’ season, so it was dangerous, scary, everybody knew who we were this time. You had to walk the streets with a certain alertness to you.”

Favourite famous superfan:

“Almost every celebrity I’ve encountered says they love it. But J Cole reached out to me, that was too much. We are from the same part of North Carolina. An honour.”

What he learned from Donald Glover:

“Just when you think you know something about him, turns out you don’t know a damn thing.”

See him next:

Everywhere.

Atlanta: Robbin’ Season continues Sundays at 10pm on FOX