Nnamdi Asomugha & Colin Warner - From Friendship to Freedom in "Crown Heights" - Extended Interview

Extended - August 24, 2017 - Nnamdi Asomugha & Colin Warner 08/24/2017 Views: 23,932

Nnamdi Asomugha talks about his film "Crown Heights," which examines Colin Warner's real-life story of being incarcerated for 21 years for a crime he didn't commit. (8:42)

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Please welcome actorand producer Nnamdi Asomugha

and the subject of the film,Colin Warner, everybody!

(cheering and applause)

Welcome to the show, gentlemen.

Thank you so muchfor being here.

There is no other way todescribe the story and the film

as both heartbreakingand triumphant at the same time.

Uh, Nnamdi,let's-let's start with you.

This is a story of a man--

who's sitting next to youright now--

who was wrongfully imprisoned21 years

for a crime he didn't commit.

You play his best friendin the movie...

I mean in real life, his bestfriend, who helped get him out.

Start with the process.Start with the idea.

How did you get into this?

And, more importantly, whatconnected with you in the story?

Yeah, it was a...We were lucky enough

to have a-a visionary directorin Matt Ruskin,

and he put togethera five-minute documentary

of Colin and of Carl,and he was passing it around.

It made its way to me.

And I asked for a script.

And then I auditionedand got the part.

-Right. -Um, but I had adifferent connection to Colin.

I, uh... When I...Between the ages of 13 and 16,

I was arrested twice, both timesfor things I didn't do.

Um, so I spent a dayin a holding cell,

which, obviously,was nothing compared

to what Colin went through,

but it stays with youwhen that happens.

So I basically thought that,you know, if I can get...

if I can be a partof this story,

I can lend my voiceto not only his issue

but what I went through as well.

Right, and this-this was, uh,

your-your debutin a feature film.

I mean, you've comefrom the world of football.

It's a completely differentstory.

And you-you went into, honestly,

-one of the hardest storiesto tell immediately. -Yeah.

What do you doto prepare yourself for that?

And I... I guess,what's interesting to me is,

playing Colin's best friend,

a man who essentially savedhis life,

uh, like, what did you haveto go through to become

that person? What did you haveto understand about Colin?

Yeah, it was interesting.I-I was at home one day,

and I just heard on the TV,somebody said,

"There's an assumptionof dangerousness and guilt

"that gets assignedto black and brown people

"that we haven't gotten overin this country,

and it's just been reinventedin different ways."

And he went from the 1800s

and started talkingabout segregation

and then he-he made itto mass incarceration.

And in my ear, I was think...in my head, I was thinking,

"He's talking about Colin.This is our story."

-Right. -And I looked.It was Bryan Stevenson

-from the Equal JusticeInitiative. -Right.

He was being interviewedby Charlie Rose.

And so I got his information,called him, um,

was able to talk to him a fewtimes over a couple of weeks,

and he really was the onethat put me in the mindset

of what it takesto-to free someone from prison

that's beenwrongfully convicted,

'cause that's what he does.

And now, Colin,on-on your side--

your friend is someone

who had no experiencein legal matters.

He was just your friend.

He knew that you werewrongfully imprisoned.

Can you take us througheven a microcosm

of-of what you were feelingas you experiencing this--

-being arrested at 18,I believe... -Yes.

...and then having to spend mostof your adult life

in prison for somethingyou didn't do?

Wow. Greetings, everybody.

(audience murmurs)



I'm glad to be here.

This is incredible to me

as the event of my kidnapping

and being sentencedto a crime I didn't commit.

It's like two... both sides ofthe... both sides of the world.

Um, I'm glad I'm here now.

It was a struggle.

It was painful.

Almost destroyed me.

But, um...

with friends and... family,

I was able to survive.

And hopefully, with this movie,

I can... touch someonein their lives.



no one in America...

should have to go throughwhat I went through.

Despite my skin color,

despite my religious beliefs,um...

In that... in that context,I believe

that we all havethe power within us

to change a lot of thingsin our lives

that we do not like.

What I find is thatwe are remaining still,

and when you are still,there's no movement.


And only time change can happenis when movement happens.

-ASOMUGHA: Hmm.-So, please...

don't let this 21 yearsbe in vein.

Do something about it.

You may not know my story,but now you do.

Go see the movie,and, hopefully,

we can make some change and, um,save some peoples' lives.


(applause and cheering)

In a way,

your best friendwould be labeled

by many people as being crazy.

How do you workto set your friend free?

How do you work your wayinto the court system?

How do you learn legal matters?

How do you connectwith the judge?

How do you find the person whogot you wrongfully convicted?

Now that you're out--

your story's being toldin the movie--

-Right.-now that you're out,

you havea different life to live.

What is the one thing...

you wish you could imparton other people?

What is the one thingyou wish that other people

could get from the film thateither may be in this situation

or may know somebodywho's in this situation?

All I can say is, love somebody.


We need to love each other.

That's the only waychange is gonna happen.

That's the only waywe're gonna see some progress.

What Carl King did for me,to me is still unbelievable.

Sometimes I question myself,

why did I warrant...

that type of behaviorfrom another human being?

But he may have seensomething in me

that I have...I have never seen yet,

or haven't seen yet, right?

So I thank God every dayfor Mr. Carl King.

And a lot of youmay think that...

you may not have that friend,

but believe me, you do.

We just have to recognizethat person,

give them the respect andthe honor that is due to them.

Right? And hopefully,when your tail is in a jam,

somebody will cometo your defense.


Right? Because we cannotkeep asking and not give.

-It's not gonna work out.-Mm.

So, Mr. Carl King,that's my number one hero.

That's the first human beingI can say...

-I'm impressed with.-Wow. -Wow.


Nnamdi, before Ilet you both go, um...

this is a story that many peoplewill see as exceptional.

They'll go--this is an amazing film,

an amazing story,it is... exceptional.

But you don't really see itin the same way.

You go-- it's exceptional,but at the same time,

it's happening all too often.

-Why do you say that?-Um, because it is.

I mean, this was a storythat could have been told

50 years ago, it couldhave been told ten years ago.

And it probably could be toldten years from now.

You know, hopefully,the numbers are different.

But it just continues to go on.

And in the film,we kind of connect the dots

through administrations and,you know, the different things

that were going onin government.

And it's... it's reallysomething that needs to change.

Wow. I hope everyone goesto watch the movie.

The story's amazing.You are amazing.

So thank you so muchfor being on the show.

-I appreciate. Reallyappreciate it. -Thank you.

Thank you so muchfor being here.

-(cheering, applause) -Crown Heights

is currently playingin select cities

and will open nationwideon September 15.

Nnamdi Asomughaand Colin Warner, everybody.

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