Credit: Vertical

Parallel Interview: Edwin Hodge on Making a Movie With His Brother

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Parallel co-writer, producer, and star Edwin Hodge about the sci-fi thriller. Hodge discussed working on a film with his brother, Aldis Hodge, his role on FBI: Most Wanted, and more. The movie is set to release in theaters on February 23 and through video-on-demand platforms on February 27.

“Parallel follows the story of Vanessa (Danielle Deadwyler) who takes refuge at her family’s lake house to grieve after suffering the loss of her child,” reads the film‘s official synopsis. “Accompanied by her husband, Alex (Aldis Hodge), and his brother, Martel (Edwin Hodge), Vanessa attempts to regain her sense of normalcy after the tragedy. But soon after their arrival, she experiences an aberration when she is attacked by a parallel universe’s version of herself. Faced with the reality that multiverses exist, she must reconcile the fact that these parallel gates will either hold the key to releasing her grief or trapping her forever.”

Tyler Treese: One thing that really impressed me about this was how it was really written within scale. There are three characters, it’s a smaller budget, but the story feels fully fleshed out. How was it writing within your means while making sure the story still goes everywhere it needs to without a ton of budget?

Edwin Hodge: Yeah, as far as writing within the means, we understood that it’s just three of us and two locations. It’s going to be the house and the forest itself. So, within that aspect, we knew that the story had to be big or at least complex enough to keep the environment engaging. That’s what we worked on — just character development. “What is the story that we’re actually trying to tell, that we want to tell? How can we do it in the most engaging way?”

We already had the idea that we were dealing with the multiverses, so that set up the idea that we can now play with multiple personalities and we don’t have to go out and get other cast or anything like that. We kept everything knowingly on a smaller scale, with the exception of the story itself. That’s how we pretty much attacked writing this script.

It’s an interesting time for this to come out because multiverses have gotten so popular. Between Everything Everywhere All at Once and superhero movies, they’re usually going so over-the-top and grand, but this is very character-focused and more grounded. What did you like most about focusing on the characters and really delving into who these people are and what’s scary and appealing about being able to go across the different worlds?

When we watched the original film, Parallel Forest, which was written by and directed by Lei Zheng. It was very much a story that was engaging because you were just involved in these three people’s stories, more so the female lead. But for me, the story was engaging enough. So when I sent that to my brother, he immediately fell in love with the idea as well. We did start thinking, “How can we add a little bit more body to what we’ve already witnessed here?” Our idea was great, and we just wanted to add to that.

When it came to the writing process, myself, my brother, Jonathan Keasey, we just really broke down the finer points of the original film. I actually watched the film because I had to go through the translations, but I watched the film like two minutes at a time. [Laughs]. So that I could be like, “That’s the notes that they were hitting on, this is what they were telling. Okay, alright, cool.” Because I wanted to understand what that original story was, right? How we can accentuate that? Make it different, but add to it. Dealing with the multiverses … it was complex at first. We had a really complex script with watches and dolls and the universe and dah, dah, dah, and then we were just like, “Ah, we’ve got to simplify this.”

It’s a little too much. In the simplification of the story, we really started to actually focus on the character’s journeys and more so Vanessa, because she is our audience in retrospect. That was one of the main primary goals for this film, is that, as the audience is watching it, they’re also taking this journey that Vanessa is taking. We wanted them to feel suffocated when she was feeling suffocated, lost when she was feeling lost. We wanted that intensity and to marry it up with the textures and colors of the forest.

Kourosh Ahari, our director, came in and did an amazing job with getting this film together as well. We wanted to focus on the characters and Vanessa’s loss. Her pain was the crux of the story, and how she was going to deal with it or reconcile with it if she was ever going to reconcile with it and how she was going to make that happen. This is what we brought you guys.

I wanted to ask about working with your brother because you’re not just scene partners. You guys produced this, you guys worked on the script together. What was most fulfilling about getting to do this whole process with somebody you know and love?

Honestly, it was a full-body experience, man. It was a proud moment to really be able to sit down with my brother, my mom, and my sister. We’re all part of Hodge Brothers productions here, the company here, but just to sit down with the family in general and be like, “Hey guys, we’re producing a film, we’re writing a film, and it’s the first day of shooting and the first take.”

Every step of the process was just humbling and inspiring at the same time. I love my brother as an artist. I think he does amazing work. He makes amazing choices. He’s already amazing as my brother, so I wasn’t worried about that. I can only describe it as a full-body experience. It was amazing.

I want to ask about Danielle Deadwyler as a scene partner, because as you said, she’s very much the lens through which the audience sees this story. You have some great scenes with her — what stood out about her as an actress?

Danielle’s amazing — period. It’s just all around, as you’ve said. At first, I was introduced to her when I watched her in The Harder They Fall. Her character was probably one of the more engaging characters out of the entire movie. But her eyes, her facial expressions, my brother’s eyes, his facial expressions … I just thought that they would marry well on the screen together, and they did.

But Danielle came in 100% involved with the process and development of her character and the story. My brother and I very much wanted her input. As far as this woman’s journey as a mother, as a woman, whatnot … we are both black men who don’t know a woman’s journey like that — her pain or how she would deal with it.

Danielle is a mother. How would she reconcile with that kind of loss if she had that loss? We needed that information. So, we pulled a lot from Danielle and the development of her character after she had received the script. With everybody working all hands on deck, we were able to settle into this grounded story of three real people in a real situation in a messed-up world.

This is such an exciting time for you. Season 5 of FBI: Most Wanted just premiered, and this is your second season as a full cast member. How exciting has it been seeing the fan response and being embraced by the fans for your second go-around?

Oh, that’s great, man, to be honest with you. We always hope that you can step onto a show and add impact it in a positive way. Whether it’s for the audience on-screen or off-screen with your coworkers … I walked into a great environment, and it would behoove me to go ahead and disrupt that energy. I’m happy with the fanfare, man. I honestly am not the type of person that like really likes to concentrate on it, but when I do see and read trades, when people do hit me up on Instagram or on my socials or whatnot, it’s very humbling.

Because this is my job. I love doing what I do, you know? I hope that I can continue to entertain people in various different ways throughout my life here. But as far as accolades are concerned, just one’s appreciation for the work, you know? ‘Like most artists, we put a lot into this career. There are a lot of sacrifices that happen that people don’t see or don’t understand. It’s work, but I love it and I appreciate it, and I will keep doing what I do just to entertain.

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