Any print interview with Keith David should automatically begin with an apology for the fact that it’s not an audio interview with Keith David, as there’s simply no way that the written word can possibly serve as an adequate substitute for actually hearing David’s deep, booming voice intoning the responses to the questions that have been posed to him.
That said, given how many times you’ve heard David’s voice over the years — be it on animated series like Gargoyles and Spawn, in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, or as a narrator within any number of Ken Burns documentaries — and taking into consideration the myriad of films and TV series in which he’s appeared, it’s very likely that you’ll be able to hear his voice in your head even as you read his remarks. If you should happen to need a refresher, however, you can easily find one by checking out Greenleaf, which airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on OWN. David spoke to us about the series, reflected on what it’s like to have Oprah Winfrey as an executive producer, mourned the loss of The Cape and Enlisted, and reminisced about working with everyone from Mr. Rogers to Judi Dench.
How did you find your way into Greenleaf in the first place? Did they come looking for you specifically?
David: Yes, I got a call from Craig [Wright, creator and executive producer of Greenleaf], and he asked me to read the script. I read the script and I loved it, and they invited me to the party!
So how would you describe Bishop James Greenleaf in a nutshell?
In a nutshell, I believe Bishop Greenleaf is a man who started out very much a man of faith, a man of God, but as the business has built up… Well, I think he’s a perfect example of how money and power can begin to corrupt even the most humble man. There’s something that happens with all that money and power coming into play, and I think he’s seeing that firsthand. But I do believe that he also understands that that has consequences, so when his daughter Grace comes back, he’s ready to pay the piper if he has to. He’s ready to face whatever demons he needs to face. If they get called out, he’s not going to run away from whatever responsibility that his life has led to.
As a concept, it’s one that could potentially have people up in arms. Was that a matter of contemplation when you took on the role?