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Jussie Smollett reveals how he made his Langston Hughes role in Marshall a full biopic


John Shearer/Getty Images via ABC

Jussie Smollett stars as the prolific poet and activist Langston Hughes in the Thurgood Marshall biopic, Marshall. While the Empire star says he only has a “small cameo,” in the film, Smollett says the opportunity to portray Hughes was welcomed — but definitely unexpected.

“I was doing the Image Awards and I was singing a tribute to John Legend and Reggie [Hudlin] came up to me and said, ‘Listen.. we’re doing the Thurgood Marshall with Chadwick Boseman and Josh Gad and Sterling Brown and all of these amazing… Kate Hudson.. amazing actors,'” Smollett tells ABC Radio. “And he said, ‘I’d love it if you’d come play Langston Hughes.'”

After he got over the initial shock of the film’s director asking him to play one of his icons, the actor says he quickly realized the bigger opportunity in taking the smaller part.

“I told him I would do it on one condition,” Smollett explains. “He said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Within three to four years we’re doing the full Langston Hughes story. And he said, ‘Done.’ So I went on and did it and had an amazing time.”

Smollett continues: “And the night before I went up to Buffalo to film it, I went and sat in front of Hughes house in Harlem and I’ve been able to go in now and visit and walk around and feel it and it’s just incredible. I LOVE Langston Hughes.”

Marshall hits theaters today.

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