Actor Eric Roberts stars as William Faulkner in the upcoming documentary “Faulkner: The Past Is Never Dead.” Shedding light on the complex life, legacy, and opposing views of the late author, he brilliantly plays the leading role, depicting Faulkner, who was born in the south to a family of segregationists and became widely known for his racial convictions that were so vividly described in his books.
“I was approached several years ago about being a part of this film and playing, what I believe to be, one of the most provocative characters of all time,” said Roberts about his decision to ultimately join the cast. “Controversial characters are the consummate challenge for any actor. And after deciding to portray Faulkner, I became excited about depicting this man whom I share many similarities. We were both born as white males in Mississippi, both pursued careers in the arts, and both became recognized for our work with words. But no matter how much it sounds like I admire him or his work, I abhor his antiquated views.”
Roberts notes he was drawn to the project by several Faulkner aficionados, particularly the writer and director of the documentary, Michael Modak-Truran, a young man from Mississippi who grew up in the same community that Faulkner wrote about decades ago. Roberts also mentions Anita Modak-Truran, the film’s executive producer, who happens to be Michael’s mother, a brilliant attorney, and a passionate activist.
“Would Faulkner approve of me playing him when I am dedicated to eradicating the very things in this world that he believed in, questioned Roberts. “Faulkner was a liberal shunned by his community for trying to understand the racial divide. And today, his work is threatened with extinction because he doesn’t measure up to the expectations of today’s society, which is still plagued by racial and civil rights injustices. Faulkner was a source of great art and literature, but do we erase people like him from history or try to learn from their work?”