I had the privilege to sit down and chat with the supper dapper actor Henry Simmons about his latest project “From the Rough” a hot new film hitting theaters this Friday about the dynamic true story about Catana Starks a woman who made history at TSU! Henry shares his thoughts about the hot new film that stars Taraji P. Henson, the late great Michael Clarke Duncan, Tom Felton, and LeToya Luckett. The film is set in the 1980’s at TSU a HBCU in Nashville. As a proud graduate of Clark Atlanta University; I took great notice about this film showing the highs of a black college.
“From the Rough” is a sports drama film based on the true story of Catana Starks played brilliantly by my girl Taraji P. Henson. Catana Starks, a former TSU swim coach became the first woman ever to coach a college men’s golf team. The story is full of passion, drive, and achievement she took a group of “misfits” and led them to an all-time record at the PGA National Collegiate Minority Championship.
I had the chance to sit down with actor Henry Simmons who portray Kendrick Paulsen Jr. who acts as Catana’s arch antagonist throughout the film. Henry shares that his character was a composite of different people and situations the heroine had to overcome to get to victory.
Dea: I absolutely love time pieces. Was it fun going back into time to act as an administrator of a black college in the 1980’s?
Henry: Time Periods have different attitudes, barriers, and the characters deal with different types of adversities. The 1980’s was not too long ago and it’s hard to believe that a woman was being denied to things because of her gender. It was very eye-opening. I definitely enjoy working on time pieces.
Dea: Tell us about your character Mr. Kendrick Paulsen Jr.
Henry: I portray the athletic director. Taraji’s character is a coach that works at TSU in the swim department. She takes on the challenge of pulling together a men’s golf team. My character is a composite of many different characters that created barriers for Taraji’s character. The film was shot at Dillard University in the middle of the summer and it was HOT!
Dea: What do you want your fans to know about this film and what will they take away from it?
Henry: This story is an inspiring film. I hate to say that it’s inspiring because it sounds so cliché but it is a story that shows that you can make it through anything life throws your way. The primary story is about Catana Starks attempting to be the first woman to coach an all men’s golfing team. She pulled young men from all over the world to put this team together. The young men had their own issues and problems and that is the secondary piece of “From the Rough”. There were cultural differences and the odds were really against them. You can measure money, talent, but you can’t measure your heart, your will, and your ability to persevere. The young men who were pulled together shows us a story of overcoming the odds. People will walk away feeling like they can get through whatever life throws their way.
Dea: That sounds amazing. I want to know how was it working with the late great Michael Clarke Duncan? Do you know if this was his last film?
Henry: This was one of his last films. Working with Michael Clarke Duncan was awesome! Nobody can say anything bad about him. He had a great heart. He had the ability to fill the room with his smile, personality, and was so down to earth. He was a magnificent actor. He had the gift of subtlety. He portrayed the Roger in the film and he added so much seriousness and authority to that character while injecting warmth and humor. It was awesome working with him!
Dea: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. Do you have anything else you would like to share with our audience? Any projects coming up or closing thoughts about “From the Rough”?
Henry: Thank you so much. I have a film coming out later this year with Taraji P. Henson and Idris Elba called “No Good Deed“. I want people to come out and see “From the Rough” because it’s an amazing story that will inspire. I can attest that you can overcome anything in life. My faith in Jesus has gotten me through some tough times and my faith in Jesus gets me through.
Dea: Thanks Henry! World let’s show our support by going to the theater opening weekend to see Henry Simmons, Taraji P. Henson, Tom Felton, LeToya Luckett, and the late great Michael Clarke Duncan in “From the Rough”.