Crump hits big screen
Tallahassee attorney plays cameo role in movie “Marshall”
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Attorney Benjamin Crump wasn’t exactly surprised that he got a call from Reginald Hudlin, director of the movie “Mar-shall.”
After all, like Thurgood Marshall, the focus of the movie, Crump is a civil rights lawyer. Naturally his first thought was that Hudlin was calling with an offer to be a consultant for the movie.
However, the twist that the conversation with Hudlin took stunned Crump a bit. Hudlin offered him a cameo role to play the part of Marshall’s best friend and another well-known civil rights attorney, Z. Alexander Looby.
“I had no idea he was thinking about casting me in the movie,” Crump said. “When he called me I was really shocked. It’s incredible.”
“Marshall” will be in theaters, beginning Friday with Chadwick Boseman playing the lead role in the biopic on portions of the life of the first Black Supreme Court justice.
Crump’s big screen debut comes a week after he received the Circle of Gold Award, the biggest honor that FSU gives an alumnus.
“It really is quite an honor to be recognized by your alma mater in such a prestigious way,” Crump said.
In his speech, he quoted Benjamin Franklin, saying “an investment in education pays the best interest.
“I’m here as living proof that that is true because of the interest that I have realized from my education at Florida State has been invaluable to my life and whatever success that I have achieved.”
While he is renowned as a lawyer, Crump also has had other acting roles. His first was playing himself in Fox’s reality show “You the Jury.” He also has a starring role in a six-week documentary series that be-gins Nov. 21 on A&E early next year.
Ironically, Crump said, Marshall was the inspiration for him becoming an attorney. The role of his friend is one that he cherishes.
“Being in a movie about him (Marshall) is just in-credible,” Crump said. “It gave me big chills. I was blown away.”
In a way, Crump can add his three-minute role as part of his legacy.
“What it does in the movie is almost as Thurgood Marshall passing the baton or passing the torch,” Crump said. “It’s deep to me because anybody who knows me knows that Thurgood Marshall is my closest hero.”
The movie looks at Marshall’s life before he became a Supreme Court justice. In one scene, Marshall was hired to defend a teenager who was accused of killing a Mississippi police officer.
Hudlin brought two familiar faces, the parents of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by a night watchman George Zimmerman. Crump represented Mar-tin’s parents during the trial in 2012.
During an interview with BuzzFeed News, Boseman praised the fortitude of Martin’s parents for taking on a role that brings their son’s case close to home.
“Watching them go through a day on set, watching them play a mother and father whose son is in trouble with the law and needing Thurgood Marshall to save their son, and watching them go through the process of an actor of internalizing that when their son has been killed in what is similar to a police brutality incident,” Boseman said in the interview. “You gotta remember that he was actually not a policeman. Their son was killed by a wannabe cop. To have them go through that process and see them deal with those issues, I mean, it was humbling for me. It was ghostly.”
Crump will be featured next March in a documentary of Martin.
With as many non-court appearances that Crump is making, he admitted that more roles in Hollywood are in his future. But not at the cost of compromising his legal career, he said
“I think my most significant legal work is still ahead of me in terms of making historical advances for human rights,” said Crump. “The TV shows and movies are good but I understand the purpose that God put me on the earth for; to fight for equal justice for the disenfranchised.
“I’m not thinking about stopping being a lawyer, but I do see myself doing more projects in Hollywood be-tween television and mov-ies in a way respectful of my profession. I see myself trying to push for justice through art. I think that’s one of the things Thurgood Marshall would be doing if he were living today.”