Corey Hawkins was excited at the chance to learn more about the dynamic between his character Harpo and Harpo’s father Mister (Colman Domingo) in The Color Purple.

In an interview with Blavity’s Shadow and Act Managing Editor Trey Mangum, Hawkins said how he thought the characters’ dynamic of an unloving father and a son trying to access that love was “very important” to tell because “it existed back then and it still exists now.”

“It’s a dynamic that I think is worth exploring, it’s a dynamic that I think is worth getting more curious about and allowing ourselves the space and the time and the vulnerability to break these things open,” he said. “That’s the benefit of working with someone like Colman that I can ask these questions of and we can literally start to peel back the layers and start to see what it is that makes Harpo tick.”

Hawkins said that because of Colman’s “etched out” and “nuanced” portrayal of the character, he was able to see more of how Harpo would have been affected by Mister as a father as well as by his marriage to Sophia (Danielle Brooks).

“I’m seeing the possibility of love in that relationship. I’m seeing what the absence of love means to Harpo in that relationship. I’m seeing how Sophia affects what Harpo sees as love in that relationship. It’s radical, even back then, it’s radical love and Harpo leans into that,” he said. “Harpo doesn’t make much of a splash, he allows Sophia to do that because that’s who she is and that’s why he loves her, but it was all about getting behind his eyes. He’s an observer, he’s a quiet soul, but he’s also forward-moving. He’s a businessman in a time where Back men couldn’t necessarily step out on their own and I love that about him and I appreciate that about him, that he’s able to get towards that language of how to love and he sees the possibility in his father but he also understands why…[his] father is the way he is, and it takes a lot of living to do that.”

Watch the full interview with the cast above.

The Color Purple will be in theaters on Christmas Day.