Louis Gossett Jr. calls the BET miniseries "The Book of Negroes" better than "Roots." And he starred in both, so who are we to argue?
Gossett stopped by The Times recently to talk about the acclaimed six-parter, which Times television critic Robert Lloyd praised for its ability to "catch the ordinariness even in the awfulness -- the creepy dailiness of the business of slavery, and the capability of those who profit from it to regard themselves as just and even tender people."
Gossett discussed filming the miniseries, first in Cape Town, South Africa, and then at the end of winter in Nova Scotia, the "out of body" acting scenes he shared with costar Aunjanue Ellis and the career choice he faced as a young man.
"I had to make a decision in 1959," Gossett says, talking about being drafted by the New York Knicks that year when he was concurrently in a production of "A Raisin in the Sun." "After concentrating either on all of this or all of what God has given me as a gift, I went with 'A Raisin in the Sun' and the rest is history."
Gossett elaborated a bit on that history, talking "Roots" (he wasn't initially happy with being chosen to play Fiddler, a character he initially thought of as an "Uncle Tom") and the satisfaction that comes from being in projects that unveil little-known chapters of the past.
"There's so much more to tell," Gossett says. "There's such a plethora of stories."