'Queen & Slim' stars on self-imposed pressure and working with 'fresh' filmmaking voices (exclusive)

Tom Beasley
Contributor

Jodie Turner-Smith struggled with “self-imposed pressure” on the set of Queen & Slim as she prepared for her first major movie role.

The 33-year-old actor told Yahoo Movies UK she was very aware of the talent and experience of the people around her on the film.

Turner-Smith plays one half of the titular couple whose awkward first date turns disastrous when they are pulled over by a racist cop, who ends up dead when Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) shoots him in self-defence.

Read more: Waithe says Queen & Slim is still a Hollywood “anomaly”

The movie is the feature debut of Grammy-winning music video director Melina Matsoukas and was penned by Emmy-winning scriptwriter Lena Waithe.

For Turner-Smith, the level of awards pedigree and talent on show was intimidating.

“I was so clear that I was surrounded by such excellence,” she said.

Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith in 'Queen & Slim'. (Credit: eOne)

She added: “Daniel. Melina, though it's her first feature we all knew how talented she was already, which is why everyone in the business was excited about what her first project was going to be. Lena is obviously very talented.

“I definitely had the sense I was stepping into something that was very important and I needed to make sure that I met the bar.

“So I just tried to do that as best as I could and get myself out of the way and just really serve the story.”

Read more: Kaluuya wants to subvert expectations with Barney movie

For her co-star Kaluuya, Queen & Slim marks another high-profile collaboration with a first-time filmmaker, after he earned an Oscar nomination for leading Jordan Peele’s instant classic Get Out.

Jodie Turner-Smith, Melina Matsoukas, Daniel Kaluuya, and Lena Waithe attend the world premiere of "Queen & Slim" on November 14, 2019. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Audi)

It seems the 30-year-old Brit relishes the opportunity to work with new and emerging cinematic voices.

He said: “I just love being challenged, do you know what I'm saying?

“There's probably some habits that I have and then you see something and go 'oh, that's fresh'. That's just being inquisitive and growing and learning.

“People who don't know the rules can teach you so much.”

Read more: Kaluuya reveals how worst first date inspired Queen & Slim

Queen & Slim is in UK cinemas from 31 January.