Ghosts of the Ozarks: Smallville’s Phil Morris on What Drew Him to the Role

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In Ghosts of the Ozarks, a young doctor named James McCune (Thomas Hobson) is called by his uncle Matthew (Phil Morris) to come to a small town, where he can serve as the town doctor following the death of his predecessor. When he arrives, what he finds is that his uncle — and the town — are far from what they’re all cracked up to be. The town lives in fear of a supernatural threat — all except for Matthew, who seems to have some kind of control over not just the threat itself, but by extension, the whole town as a result.

The film takes place in the Reconstruction era, deep in Confederate territory, so one surprising element is the fact that Hobson and Morris are both men of color, but their race doesn’t define their relationship with the locals. As Hobson put it, the biggest concern anyone has of his character is that he can do the job and keep people healthy. Matthew truly loves his nephew and, confident in his nephew’s abilities, brought him in to enjoy a relatively peaceful life in this small town. Unfortunately, the two almost immediately stop seeing eye to eye.

“One surprise was that the antagonist and the protagonist are both black,” Morris told ComicBook. “I was very taken by that. At first, I’m like, ‘My God, I’m such a…’ but I thought to myself, what’s mitigated is that the lead is also African-American. I like that it wasn’t worn on our sleeves until it had to be. There’s a scene that comes near the end of the film, where I have it out with my nephew and I tell him really in my heart of heart’s what’s going on inside of me, and that’s really the only time that we deal with that issue. But that’s an issue that’s underlying in every African-American’s mind, whether it was that period or now. We live under those constraints constantly, but that it was not as obvious and pointed at in this movie, is terrific.”

Here’s the official synopsis for the film:

“In post-Civil War Arkansas, a young doctor is mysteriously summoned to a remote town in the Ozarks only to discover that the utopian paradise is filled with secrets and surrounded by a menacing, supernatural presence.”

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You can get Ghosts of the Ozarks to rent or buy on Digital now.

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