Jay Pharoah won’t be contained. After an electric exit from Saturday Night Live in 2016 where he spoke out against being “a yes man,” and the lack of diversity that has continually plagued the program since its inception four decades ago, Pharoah has been everywhere. From the comedic stage to a Showtime comedy series, and now in the gripping Steven Soderbergh stalker thriller Unsane, the comedian is embracing life as it comes.
Unsane follows a young woman Sawyer (The Crown’s Claire Foy) who is involuntarily committed to a mental institution where she is forced to confront her greatest fear – the man who has been stalking her. Pharoah plays Nate, a fellow patient whose battling his own demons while holding on to some shocking secrets.
On a brisk Sunday morning in New York City, Pharoah sat down to chat with Shadow and Act about Unsane, his forthcoming album, and why he isn’t afraid of anything. According to the 30-year-old, the opportunity to step into Nate’s shoes came as a bit of a surprise. “My agent hit me up,” he revealed. “She said, ‘Well, you know Steven Soderbergh has this film. He wants to work with you on this. It’s a cool film and its something you should do.’ This wasn’t some random director DMing you on Instagram saying, ‘I’ve got this project. You’d be perfect for it.’ This was an established legend in the game, so it was a no-brainer for me. When we did have a conversation, he said, ‘I know you do comedies, but I can see you have a dramatic side. I want to show that to the world if you have the opportunity to do it.’ I was like, ‘Man. Whatever you need, I’m down. Let’s do it.’”
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