Apple TV+’s newest drama series about the late, revolutionary Black Panther Party founder Huey P. Newton, The Big Cigar, chronicles the undercover caper to smuggle the activist to Cuba disguised as a Hollywood production. 

The series uses a mix of historical references to tell the story, and one of the best resources is Emmy-nominated actor Glynn Turman. Turman brought his 65 years of acting experience to the series, portraying Walter Newton, the activist’s father. 

“He was a grounding figure for Huey, who was in need of such a margin to guide his activism,” Turman told Blavity’s Shadow and Act in a recent interview. 

Turman stated that his role as Newton’s father was an easy lift due to the chemistry between him and actor André Holland, who plays the founder of the Black Panther Party. 

He jokingly added that while his children may not take advantage of his wealth of knowledge, he applied his personal experience as a father to fulfill the role. 

Although he was a pastor, Newton often acknowledged his father as an inspiration behind his activism and ability to captivate people. 

“He was an activist in his own right,” Turman said about Walter. “Preachers have always been the leaders of our community. They’ve always been at the forefront of what our struggles have been about. Whether it’s as an activist preacher or preachers who were simply there to offer that support that the community needed when going through rough times and navigating the system laid out for us,” he said. 

While Walter may not have always agreed with his son’s path, Turman felt he saw his passion and knew his mission. 

Turman also shared his personal experiences with the Black Panthers. The A Different World actor was an acquaintance of party co-founder Bobby Seale and attended a few meetings in California. 

The Big Cigar displays moments between the father and son that one could assume would affect the trajectory of a storied life like Newton’s. 

When asked if a change in circumstances could have changed the outcome of Newton’s life, Turman stated sometimes our paths are inevitable. 

“We ultimately often find ourselves following the path that is already laid out. The outcome is usually pretty much what the stars have determined to be: a right turn here and a left turn. It doesn’t mean you missed a fork in the road.” 

The Big Cigar is now available to stream on Apple TV+.