Michael Beach is currently co-starring in Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins’ James Baldwin adaptation If Beale Street Could Talk. But it’s the veteran actor’s roles in classic Black films from the ’90s that have garnered Beach the most attention from fans–some of it less welcomed than others.
When Beach stopped by Shadow And Act to play ‘Reel It Back,’ with us, we showed him clips from just a few of his most iconic roles and he shared how one memorable role in particular got him cursed out by fans.
“Reactions were very verbal and at times physical actually,” Beach laughed, sharing with Shadow And Act how fans reacted to his adulterous character in Waiting to Exhale who left Angela Bassett’s character for his white secretary. “There’s been times when I have gone to the store, to the mall and [got] cursed out. That happened a lot. And then, a couple of times, I was pushed. And obviously I didn’t want to push back even though I felt like it sometimes, because, it’s like ‘Lady, what is wrong with you? This is a movie! I’m just a guy walking with my kids and my wife, why do you have to push me?'” He said.
“He might be the most hated man on the cast,” Beach said, laughing, about his character in Waiting to Exhale.
His role as the adulterous lawyer-turned-jazz player who cheated on Vanessa L. Williams’ character in Soul Food didn’t get him much love either. “The scene, it’s funny I constantly get posts sent to me on Instagram and somebody had just sent to me the scene where she’s [Williams] chasing me with the knife and I reposted it and all the vitriol came right back.” At least he has a sense of humor about it, and some great memories:
“We had a great time shooting [Soul Food]. Everybody in the cast was fantastic,” he said.
The last clip Beach watched was from a pivotal scene in If Beale Street Could Talk, where he’s once again playing an unhappily married man. When his character Frank’s wife curses his unborn grandchild’s life, he slaps his wife down to the floor, an act Beach was concerned would continue a trend of fans loving to hate his characters.
“What she actually said is so disgusting, and yet, I still wasn’t sure what the audience would feel, partially because it was me, if I would be attacked for hitting her or if more people would understand where that came from,” he said.
“I was pleasantly surprised to know that I’m not getting attacked because of it.”
In the book If Beale Street Could Talk, Beach’s character (*mild spoiler*) dies by suicide.
“We didn’t actually shoot the scene, it was spoken about in the story, the script,” he said of the scene that was omitted from the final film. Here’s what he had to say about that pivotal moment and what its omission from the film might mean: