Interview: Ray Fisher Talks ‘ZSJL’, Working With Karen Bryson, ‘Women of the Movement’ & More
Ray Fisher is known as being the heart of the League in Zack Snyder’s Justice League and for being a champion in speaking his truth, which has surely helped others to share their stories too (accountability > entertainment) and he’s coming to Toronto to meet fans at FAN EXPO Canada: Limited Edition (October 22-24).
Prior to the convention, I had the pleasure of being able to have a conversation with the brilliant actor as he was gearing up to attend the convention. We talked about how he’s been doing with everything that’s been happening, his elation over Zack Snyder’s Justice League finally being released, his upcoming role in Women of the Movement, and much more!
Check out the interview with Ray Fisher below:
Firstly, I just want to start with, how are you doing with everything that’s going on and obviously the pandemic on top of everything else. So how are you?
Ray Fisher: I’m doing, I think as well as I could be, right? You know, I tell folks, my friends and my family have been really, really helpful and influential as I’m sure most folks have, as I’m sure most people’s friends and families have. It’s been a tough year and a half for a lot of different reasons. But I feel hopeful that we’re going to be coming out on the other side of it soon enough. I mean, just, even on the political side, the know work side, all these things – everything feels so polarized in different ways and being able to sort of tune out every now and then has been really helpful for me.
For sure. So, you’ll be in Toronto for Fan Expo, have you been to Toronto before? I know it’s not your first convention obviously, but what are you looking forward to?
Ray Fisher: I have not been to Toronto. What I’m looking forward to is meeting the mayor of Toronto. I hear his name is Drake. Is that true? [laughs]
Well, you know, sometimes people like to say, he’s the mayor. [laughs]
Ray Fisher: [laughs] Is he going to be at the con because he’s the mayor or is he going to give the key to the city away, way out there? I’m looking forward to that.
Yeah. Who knows? I think he might be at a Raptors game or something. [laughs]
Ray Fisher: [laughs] But I’m looking forward to meeting the fans out there. I’ve been to Canada a couple of times, just different areas like Vancouver and Calgary and, Canadian fans are some of the warmest people that I think I’ve encountered, which is phenomenal. And I’m anxious to see how Toronto stacks up.
I obviously have to ask you about Zack Snyder’s Justice League. We obviously saw a totally different Cyborg in Zack’s version of the film than the previous one. So I was just wondering, what did it feel like for you watching that for the first time?
Ray Fisher: I watched it in my hotel room, alone in the dark on the same iPad that I am currently talking to you on. And when I tell you I could not sit still in my seat, I was just like jumping out of my chair. Right?! There were a couple of moments where I literally shed a tear because it was like all of the time and energy and all the weights you lift and all the, you know, all the stuff you had to do to get there, right? Like, this is the culmination of my entire journey. From saying to my mom, ‘Hey, look, I want to go to theater school’ and, you know, having the Justice League process unfold the way that it did right? With Josh Whedon and the rest, and then having to wait four years on top of that, knowing full well that there’s a different and better version of the film that represents everyone’s work in a much better way.
And not being able to either say anything about it or have people not believe you. And then having that come out and just…you feel this weight, you feel everything sort of just like lift off of you. And you go, you know what? Win, lose or draw, you know, there’s a record that I did it. There’s, proof positive and I got the DVD of it in here to let people know I was here. I did the damn thing. That’s kinda what it felt like!
That’s amazing! I really loved all of your scenes as Cyborg, but especially the scenes that you shared with Karen Bryson. They were some of my favourites. So what was it like working together and how did you kind of build the mother-son bond that we saw?
Ray Fisher: Karen is like one of the loves of my life. Funny enough, she’s not actually old enough to play my mom. Right? We joke about that all the time. She’s like, ‘Oh Ray, my pretend son.’ She’s like, ‘You know, I’m not old enough to play your mom.’ I said, ‘I know Karen. I know.’ [laughs] But, we ended up meeting the first day we were filming together. I think we were filming the car crash scene. I walk in and someone mentioned in passing, ‘Oh, hey, your mom’s here.’ And at first, I was like, I’m like my mom?! And then I was like, oh, wait, no, Victor Stone’s mom. And so, I’m like where’s she at? And so she’s in one of these pop-up tents they kept inside of the soundstage where we’d hang out every now and then. And I kinda like tap on the tent and I go, excuse me? And she looks at me and I look at her, I go, you’re my mom. She goes, ‘Oh my God!’ And I said, ‘you are vivacious!’ I said, please give me a hug. And so we hugged it out and we literally just hit it off like gangbusters.
You know, sometimes they give you a full script, sometimes they don’t, depending on what you got going on. So from what I understand, Karen didn’t have the entire, entire script for the piece. And so I’m giving her little tidbits of things that you know, you’re like building out. And we just like clicked, clicked in a really crazy way. And she’s got such a kind and warm heart and soul, and I think that comes across. And that really helps me because it’s a great sort of counterbalance to Silas Stone, right? Who’s played by the great Joe Morton. Silas Stone, who’s a bit colder and a bit more pragmatic, right? Even though she is absolutely every bit as smart as Silas Stone, if not smarter. She’s a scientist as well. But, she’s able to balance her personal and professional life in a way that Silas isn’t.
And so, once we sat down in that car, it’s just like looking into her eyes and, you know, I just know, feeling what it’s like, right? ‘Cause I grew up in a quote-unquote non-traditional family environment. Right? My pop wasn’t around and so, I understood what that sort of felt like, what that was like to a degree, right. Obviously, it’s different for Victor Stone who has a father that is there but is mentally absent. But I think I was able to pull from that experience and with the help of Karen, I think it turned out to be as great as it could have.
Yeah. It was honestly one of my favourite parts of the entire film. You both did an amazing job! Speaking of working with awesome women, I know you’re working on Women of the Movement. So I was wondering if you could just talk a little bit about that and playing Gene Mobley?
Ray Fisher: Yes, working with awesome women. Women of the Movement, our showrunner Marissa Jo Cerar who’s a phenom, Gina Prince-Bythewood, who did our pilot episode and, you know, super grounded. Her rehearsal process, her insight, and how she builds character was something that I hadn’t experienced. And I was grateful to be able to experience it on the TV side of things. Adrienne Warren was playing Mamie Till in it, is super dedicated and really puts her all into it. Every episode, it’s a six-episode limited series, anthology-style, and every episode is directed by a different black woman. Some people double up actually. That was my first time being able to work with a female director, let alone a Black director. So to be able to get both of those in the same combo, you know, for six episodes of a show. It was pretty great!
That sounds amazing! Earlier, you mentioned theatre school, so I actually wanted to as, do you have any plans or would you like to go back to doing something onstage?
Ray Fisher: For sure! I mean, for me it would be about finding the right piece and yeah, I would love to every now and then. Things will come through the pipeline where it’s like, ‘Hey, are you around? Can you do this?’ It’s like a three-month thing, a four-month thing. And I don’t necessarily have the time in the same way, that I used to be able to or at least the time that I used to have. But like if the right thing comes along and we can plan it out, I would love to get back on stage. I’m terrified to a degree ‘cause I haven’t had to memorize a three-hour Shakespeare in years now. And it’s one of those things where you’ve really got to massage that muscle or it goes.
Thank you so much for your time and I hope you enjoy Fan Expo once you get there!
Ray Fisher: Awesome. And hopefully, you’ll be there and please stop by the table to say hello.
I’ll be there and I will for sure!
Ray Fisher: Awesome! Thanks, Britany.
Thank you so much! Have a great day.
Ray Fisher: You too. Thank you!