Moonlight’s André Holland Talks About His Unforgettable Performance

Even in a film full of brilliant moments, André Holland’s third-act performance is a standout. He tells us how the whole thing came together.

By Bené Viera

Barbara Lewis’s “Hello Stranger” is the jukebox joint that reminds Kevin (played by André Holland) of his childhood friend Chiron, or Black, as he once called him with fondness. By the time we’re introduced to adult Kevin, he hasn’t spoken to Chiron in over a decade. It’s the third and final chapter of Barry Jenkins’s stunning film Moonlight, and Kevin has found freedom in a simple life. He’s traded identity struggles for comfort in all of who he is. He wants Chiron to know that, too—what it is to be free.

Holland is in Moonlight for a brief but significant moment. You hang on to his every word as he cooks for Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) in the small Miami diner where he’s now a chef. The intimacy they shared on the beach as teens is the only one Chiron’s ever had with another guy. In the final scene, now as men, Chiron lays his head on Kevin’s shoulder as the two look toward the ocean. The possibilities are endless. Holland’s performance helps you understand why he’s been hand-picked by directors Ava DuVernay (Selma), Steven Soderbergh (The Knick), Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story), and Jenkins. And though he’s still basking in the consensus that Moonlight is one of the year’s best films, he’s already plotting out the next phase in his career. He wants to help other actors create projects.

In our conversation, we talked about Moonlight’s portrayal of masculinity, working with Barry Jenkins, and how to handle “teachable moments.”

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