In an interview with Shadow and Act’s managing editor Trey Mangum along with Dillard, Christina Jackson, Joe Jonas and Thomas Sadoski, Majors, who plays Brown, said that he and the production team used research and the biography written about Brown’s life– but they also spoke with Brown’s family, who gave Majors plenty to work with.
“I had a chat with about maybe 12 or 13 members [of Brown’s family] via Zoom. I was already involved in the project and the family wanted to meet–essentially vet–the guy who was going to be playing their relative. Very quickly it became clear that they trusted me and it became clear that I wanted to do them right,” Majors said.
“They were telling stories about Jesse…and what I heard were these stories of this funny man, this shy man, this stoic, this gregarious man, this devout Christian, this fighter, this warrior, this maverick…this trailblazer,” he continued. “One of the producers said, not to discredit [her], but she said, ‘It’s just a movie, and we’re going to try to put as much of that in there as we can but we can’t get all of that in there,’ to which I said, ‘Wait, no…we can.’ And I looked at them, and I said, ‘I’m going to get all of that in there.’…What they’re talking about is not a narrative, they’re talking about an essence of a human being, and they’re giving me so many colors that I was just downloading.”
Dillard said that for him, he realized he was able to tell his father’s story, who also served as a pilot, while bringing Brown’s story to the big screen.
“In a funny way, sometimes the thing just finds you. And I’d kind of put it out to the universe for a while that I wanted to tell a story in and around aviation, whether that was a true story or science fiction, it honestly didn’t matter when I was putting the vibe out there,” he said, adding that he was emotional when reading the script for Devotion once it came to him.
“I kind of cried my way through reading the script, which we all know is so rare. It wasn’t just because how incredible Jesse and Tom’s [Brown’s fellow pilot Tom Hudner, played by Glenn Powell] story was and how incredible it is to see what Jesse did when he did it, but there’s obviously a very personal connection because I saw so much of a dad in Jesse, who was an aviator 30 years behind him. I had this opportunity to tell two stories at once. I could tell the story about Tom and Jesse and I could also tell my dad’s story.”
Watch the full interview with the cast of Devotion below.
Devotion is in theaters now.