Following an unbelievable mix-up, on Sunday night, Moonlight won Best Picture at the 2017 Oscars. While it's win over La La Land was somewhat surprising (especially after La La Land had literally been named Best Picture), what's not so surprising is that Moonlight resonated with so many viewers — those in the Academy and moviegoers alike — and one of the film's stars has a good idea as to why. Speaking to Bustle ahead of the Oscars, Moonlight star André Holland explained why he thinks it was so important the film come out in today's political climate and why the story sticks so firmly with those who see it.
"I think that there’s humanity," says Holland, who plays the oldest version of Kevin in the film. "Whether you like it or not, you can't walk away from it feeling like what you just experienced wasn't real."
He continues, "If people can accept the fact that this is a real human experience, admit it, that is, you're on the road towards empathy and compassion. And I think that once we introduce a little bit more of that in the world we'll be positively impacted in our current political situation."
Being that Moonlight is a coming of age story about a gay black man in Miami, of course, some people are going to relate to the story more strongly than others, but Holland is right — even if you can't relate in a specific way, there's something powerful in seeing how someone like the main character, Chiron (Trevante Rhodes), grew up and lives his life.
In fact, one of the things the American Horror Story actor likes best about the movie is the various ways people can connect with it. "I think what's great about the film is that there’s so many different opportunities for people to experience it," he says. "Some people come away saying they really attached themselves to Chiron's storyline. Maybe they were bullied in school or they maybe had some issues with their own identity or sexually and they take away recognition of their own experience."
On the other hand, Holland says he's had people come up to him and say how much they related to his character, Chiron's childhood best friend who he meets up with again later in life. "Other people will come up to me and say that they really identified with Kevin's character and the courage and the vulnerability that he offers when he reconnects with Chiron," he explains. "And some people look at Juan’s character [played by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali] and say, well, you know, maybe our ideas of masculinity is need to be reexamined. Because you have a guy who is outwardly hyper-masculine and yet he’s the one person in Chiron's life who offers him compassion, and touch, even."
While Holland didn't know it at the time, the multiple takeaways one can have after seeing Moonlight also seem to have resonated with Oscar voters. Holland said at the time that the film will "hopefully will go down as a classic," and it looks like he's well on the way to getting his wish.
Moonlight is available on Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday, Feb. 28.