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'Remember the Titans' stars Wood Harris and Ryan Hurst reflect on a racist encounter during filming

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Buena Vista/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Remember the Titans actors Wood Harris and Ryan Hurst have reunited to discuss their classic film, and how it remains relevant to the ongoing fight against racial injustice.

The duo played real-life football players Julius Campbell Jr. and Gerry Bertier in the 2000 film, which you may already know is based on the real-life integration story of the 1971 T. C. Williams High School football team in Alexandria, Virginia, under its first Black coach, played by Oscar-winner Denzel Washington. 

In an interview with GQ, Hurst, who is white, and Harris, who is Black, remembered different encounters with an unnamed white woman while filming, noting how they were treated differently in her presence.

“We went in there, I sat down, and I was talking with her and she was on her elbows leaning close to me,” Hurst recalled. “Then Wood walked over and she moved her chair back a little, leaned back, crossed her legs, crossed her arms and Wood looked over at me and nodded at me.”

In that moment, Hurst says he understood the intentional discrimination against his co-star and friend. But more importantly, the encounter taught him about racism.

“It just showed me, it doesn’t matter how socially aware [you are]. Experientially, as a white man, you’re born to be ignorant,” Hurst said.

Harris said he was “glad” to have created a film that is “apropos to the times” and today’s Black Lives Matter movement.

“We told the right story. It’s like perfect vision. You can rub your eyes and see clearly if you want to,” the Empire actor said. “I feel like Remember the Titans is a contribution in some way to that path that’s undeveloped — it’s a film that gets to stick around and be a part of this developed country.”

By Rachel George
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