Colman Domingo & Corey Hawkins Get Candid About Their Takes On Mister & Harpo In ‘The Color Purple’


Actors Colman Domingo and Corey Hawkins bring new energy to The Color Purple’s iconic father/son duo, Mister and Harpo, in Blitz Bazawule’s reimagining of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. 

Mister, originally played by Danny Glover in Stephen Spielberg’s 1985 film adaption of The Color Purple, is one of the most complex and possible characters because of his treatment of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) in the film.

His son Harpo, initially played by Willard E. Pugh, wasn’t hated on the same level as his father but did get side eyes for his treatment of his wife Sofia (Oprah Winfrey) due to the misogyny and the worldview he inherited from his father, allowing it to affect his marriage.

Both Domingo and Hawkins wanted to take different approaches to the iconic characters, hoping that a new generation of viewers would see them differently after taking in Bazawule’s film.

CassiusLife spoke with both actors; see what they had to say below.

Colman Domingo Wants

The Color Purple

Source: Eli Ade / The Color Purple

Colman Domingo is no stranger to portraying complex characters that viewers will despise. In a testament to his acting skills, Domingo finds a way to find the nuance in characters who are, on paper, terrible people, and that continues to be the case with 2023’s version of Mister.

“I think the challenge, in the beginning, is to find all the things that I love about him, to really make him a full, honest character that lives in me,” Domingo told CassiusLife.

When you’re watching him, you can’t just villainize him. You have to… find ways to have empathy for the character…

He continues, “So I didn’t want to look at him as the way other people have seen him or women for years have seen Danny Glover. I wanted to take a look at him and examine him as somebody who had charisma and love and hope and dreams like everybody else and then put him in this place where it’s like, ‘What happens when those dreams are deferred, and he put his foot on someone else’s neck?’ And that’s how he finds his power. So I wanted to find him in this very tricky way and make sure that it complicates an audience. When you’re watching him, you can’t just villainize him. You have to, in a strange way, find ways to have empathy for the character, and that makes it more human.”

Corey Hawkins Sees His Version of Harpo As A Beacon For Young Black Men

The Color Purple

Source: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures / The Color Purple

For Hawkins, the actor looks at his portrayal as Harpo differently and hopes he can be a beacon for Black men.

I want them to have the freedom to be curious about themselves and about the way they love themselves first…

“I want them to have the freedom to be curious about themselves and about the way they love themselves first because you have to be able to do that in order to love others. You have to be able to do that. And so for Harpo, it was important for me to find the way that he loves and how he loves,” Hawkins said.

“And Harpo, I see him as like a beacon for these young Black men. He isn’t the only example, but he’s an example for someone who identifies with him. Maybe someone doesn’t; maybe there’s a young Black man who identifies with Sofia and the way she does things, whatever that is.”

“I do,” Domingo interrupts while laughing.

Hawkins continues, “You know what I’m saying? I mean, who wouldn’t? But honestly, it is, and it’s also interesting because it’s showing all young Black men how to love Black women as well, or again, a way of loving.”

“I love that Harpo finds a way to forgive his father or to get past it, to move past it and to see his father. That is something that I think is key. It’s important. And I’m glad that we got to explore those nuances and all of those questions and the complexities of who we are as Black men because we’re not just one swath of a thing. We’re not a monolith.”

…it’s showing all young Black men how to love Black women.

The Color Purple arrives in theaters on Christmas Day.

You can see the full interview above and peep our interview with Phylicia Pearl Mpasi by heading here.