Overton High School junior Neimus Williams was a lanky, basketball-loving 15-year-old when he went down to Beale Street to audition for Craig Brewer's film Black Snake Moan.
"There were too many people to count and they all had resumes," Williams says, admitting that the odds of being cast in a speaking role seemed awfully small. But Brewer was smitten with Williams' reading and cast him in the pivotal role of Lincoln, the young man Christina Ricci's Rae surprises in a big, big way. -- by Chris Davis
Flyer: Three weeks passed between the time you auditioned and the time you were offered the role. Had you given up hope?
Neimus Williams: I never gave up hope. I was at home when they called because I'd fractured my wrist. I was going to sleep when the phone started ringing. I looked over and saw [the caller I.D.] said "Paramount Pictures," and I lit up like a Christmas tree. When I answered the phone, the person asked if they could speak to a parent or guardian. I told them nobody was here and that's when they said they wanted me to play the part. Then I really lit up like a Christmas tree.
Did your friends treat you different when they found out you were in a movie?
No. But some of them wouldn't believe it. They'd say, "You ain't in no movie."
In your very first film, you've got a big scene with Samuel L. Jackson. That's not bad work.
The first time I met Sam he scared me. We were shooting in Mississippi and I was with Craig going over lines when I looked over and saw him. I asked, "Is that Samuel L. Jackson over there?" and Craig said, "Yeah, go meet him." So I said, "Hi, I'm Neimus," and I guess I was looking away because [Sam] said, "Don't look over there, look at me!" And he had this tone in his voice. It scared me.
Did Christina Ricci scare you?
I guess it was the fourth or fifth day when I first met Christina. We were shooting the scene where I go to Lazarus' house with the basket. You know, where she jumps on me. And Craig had been teasing me all day, saying, "Oooh, Neimus, you're going to be kissed a lot." But she started out working at a young age, too, so it was really good working with her and seeing how she'd handled it.
Did you hang out with Justin Timberlake?
Yeah, we'd meet up between scenes or in the makeup trailer. That was the first time I'd ever met a superstar before. And there was this girl who didn't think I was in a movie. Well, I called her and put Justin on the phone. There wasn't anything else she could say.