Lionsgate’s new crime drama The Devil You Know is an intriguing story written and directed by Charles Murray. The movie follows once-incarcerated Marcus Cowans, played by Omar Epps, who is attempting to start a new chapter in his life with the support of his family and girlfriend. Upon completing rehab, Epps returns home to discover that one of his brothers, played by Will Catlett, is a suspect in a horrific crime.
Marcus battles between boundaries and brotherhood in film, leading him into old habits. He finds himself under law enforcement’s microscope after his brother’s problems fall into his lap. Weary of the justice system in their community, he finds himself at a crossroads on how to protect their family.
A seasoned detective, played by Michael Ealy finds him in the family’s chaos as he investigates the crime. The film brings forth the question: Am I my brother’s keeper? And at what cost?
Shadow and Act had the chance to speak with Epps and director Charles Murray on the film, redemption and more.
The title of the feature film foreshadows Marcus’s inner turmoil towards his brother’s lifestyle choices. Murray expands on how the film was inspired by his and his brother’s lives.
Check out the full interview above.
S&A: Where did the title come from?
“It comes from a quote,” said Murray. “It’s better the devil you know than the one you don’t. That’s in regard to doing business with someone or befriending someone or putting yourself in someone else’s hands. If you don’t know a person sometimes that’s scarier than dealing with a person you know, even though you might not fully trust them.”
Do you think that he [Marcus] wanted to overcome those issues, or do you think that he, in a sense, was going to revert back to them just because that's what he knew?
“I feel like it’s different things for different people, but I feel like when someone is trying to overcome something that has greatly held onto them, it’s harder to do when you’re put back in stress,” said Murray. “So what I wanted to do…I’ve had addicts in my family. and some have overcome it, some haven’t. And it’s always about the situations that they get put in. So what I felt was happening with Marcus was a guy who was struggling mightily and his family had rallied around him. And then I just wanted to throw a grenade into that progress to see how he would react. And I don’t know if he went back or not, but a lot of people who are rehabbing do relapse as they move forward. So I just wanted to be true to that.”
Your character was dealing with so much inner turmoil, but he ended up making his own problems. Now, do you feel like your character made his life harder, or do you feel like he genuinely was trying to be just the devil's advocate and make his family's life easier?
“I think that question right there was one of the things that drew me to wanting to play this character,” said Epps. “The idea of, like, we all say, if such and such happened, I would do this or I would do that. And I think that you really don’t know what you’ll do until you’re in the moment. So I think for Marcus, the character, he was following his instinct of protection over his brother and his family, and you just never know where that road can lead you. So I think for him, the ending of the film is so beautiful to me because it’s like the conversation doesn’t end when you leave the theater. It’s like, man, do you think he did this or you think he did that? And I thought the ending was beautiful that way. So you just never know until you’re in that.”
The Devil You Know is in theaters now.