STAGE TO SCREENS: Cuba Gooding Jr. and Vanessa Williams, Taking a Trip to Bountiful

By Harry Haun
23 Mar 2013

Director Michael Wilson
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

What is it about the play that speaks to this generation of audience members?
CG: I think a lot of the story — families struggling to make ends meet, people having to downsize their living spaces so they're bringing in their in-laws, the frustrations that will occur — I think all that's very relevant today. The fact that the story has been changed to this black family opens it up to minorities, allowing people to identify with this family nucleus.

VW: Also, it's an approach. Some people relish the past. Some people don't talk about the past. People can't wait to get home. Some people can't wait to leave home. So it's a nice juxtaposition to see two different points that are valid. Is one better than the other? Who knows?

Have either of you seen the movie?
VW: I've seen the movie.

CG: I'll wait till after we finish. It's my own thing. I could watch it and go, "Oh, that's how he did it," or I could just see it after and go, "Oh, that's how he did it."

VW: You are so different — it wouldn't make a difference with that actor [John Heard].

CG: You know what I mean. It's, like, I deliver one line every day, then I see him do it that way and go, "Ooooh! I really screwed that interpretation up!" It helps, like she was saying, this director gives you so much information, the minutia of everything. Between him and Hallie — they're in the rehearsal hall — we had an issue with some line, and she was, like, "No, no, no. Say that. He'd like that," he meaning her father.

What is your particular Bountiful? Do you have a Bountiful?
VW: I live in my hometown so I'm there every day — in Westchester. My kids went to the same high school I went to. My mother lives there. She adores us. So I am in Bountiful. We don't have the same house, but she's right across — on the other side of the tennis court. I have my own Bountiful.

CG: Good Lord!