The chi jason mitchell is actually a good cook — but a great actor indiewire pain and tightness in chest

That being said, Mitchell committed to enveloping himself in all things Chicago. He said he “didn’t know what to expect” from the Windy City, but after shooting the pilot there, he stayed for six more weeks — before Showtime ordered the first season. He was that confident in the show’s future, and his uncle (who grew up in Chicago) set him up with a few friends in town. Mitchell said he “basically built a life there,” and he even had Easter dinner with a “random” local family.

“I wanted to experience the streets of Chicago,” he said. “I wanted to feel it, I wanted to smell it, I wanted to be accepted by it. […] I want people to take away that it’s not just senseless things happening out here.” Read More: Lena Waithe and Common On How They Hope ‘The Chi’ Will Generate Empathy for Black Families

“I’ll never forget, when I first got to Chicago, walking right off of Michigan Avenue, and there was an interactive billboard on the Walgreens and it said ’46 people shot this weekend.’ To think about 46 families in one weekend […] something just being ripped from them — 46 people, are you kidding me?”

Violence is a major part of Brandon’s arc. The brother of a teen slain in the opening episode, Mitchell is required to shift quickly from a happy-go-lucky fellow to a devastated wreck. There’s a scene early on that exemplifies Mitchell’s talents — being in the moment, honestly reacting to each beat, and refusing to overplay the drama — where Brandon gets a phone call with the tragic news.

“As a guy, we don’t really [cry] when it’s time for it,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes we might have wished we would have cried. Like, my dad committed suicide when I was 15, and my sister was so torn up about it that I never shed a tear. I never cried, just because I was like, ‘Enough is going on right now, I don’t need somebody to baby me.’”

“It can be from the smallest things,” Mitchell said. “Maybe the lights go out. Your car breaks down. All the way to losing a brother. All of these things bring on emotions that, as guys in regular life, we don’t tap into, and we choose not to entertain it because, no matter what, the show must go on — life must go on. You can’t just stop and be like, ‘I just want to cry today.’ Even though that’s how you feel.”

“Everybody’s crying on the set like, ‘Jason, oh my God, you did such a good job,’” and I’m bouncing around, like, ‘Guys, why’s everybody crying? This is a great moment! We’re living the dream!’” Mitchell said, with a laugh. “They’re like, ‘You are a psychopath.’”

That may be, but whatever he’s tapping into for “The Chi” does wonders for Season 1. Mitchell’s raw performance stood out among an exceptional cast, and his work in recent films like “Mudbound” and “Detroit” have consistently kept him in the awards race. Next, he’ll be seen in the feature film “Superfly” (out June 15) and the Sundance hit, “Tyrel,” expected later this year. “The Chi” Season 2 has been picked up at Showtime.

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