Leon, a musician first, but an equally talented actor, writer and producer, stars as Ryan Chambers in "Cover", is now available on DVD in the U.S. and Canada from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Leon's Undercover Brother

By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel

June 11, 2008

He has made distinct impressions on the big screen and the music scene, in film roles ranging from "The Five Heartbeats" to "Cliffhanger" to "Waiting To Exhale" to, well, name that movie -- to playing musical notes and singing with his reggae band Leon And The Peoples.  The man formerly, presently and forever known as Leon gave of his valuable time last month, then just prior to the U.S. and Canada DVD release of the film "Cover", an explosive and thought-provoking mystery thriller directed by Bill Duke.  The film stars Aunjanue Ellis, Raz Adoti, Lou Gossett, Jr. and Vivica A. Fox.

The title of Leon's latest record is "The Road Less Traveled" and in "Cover" Leon takes a road that he hasn't necessarily traveled before in his acting career as Ryan Chambers, an enterprising and charismatic musician who has a revelation that will set a family on fire.  "The most challenging thing with this character is finding the heart deep inside the character and realizing that this person's a human being that has feelings and emotions," he said from New York City during a telephone conference with several members of the press.

"Cover" is a powerful story that some may find shocking and a tad disturbing, but Leon, 46, says that the issues it presents need to be discussed.  "One of the things this movie does, and one of the reasons why I wanted to do it is that it promotes conversation.  And the problem we seem to be having in our communities is that we're not even talking about (sexual attitudes, mores and behavior.)  We act as though it doesn't exist.  We try to shove it under the rug.  And that's what I'm hoping this movie will do.  And it has."

It is difficult to talk about "Cover" without giving away its story, but not talking about it also seems dishonest.  Still, for those who have not seen the film it is best to keep the story covered up.

Leon defines the film like this: "At the end of the day this is a murder mystery, plain and simple, with a hell of a twist.  So then being an actor I must approach it that way . . . ".  Everything was laid out on the scripted page at the beginning, according to the actor, who said that he never chose to play his character differently than he is expressed on screen, and that he agreed with one questioner's comment that Ryan Chambers was a victim of circumstance and society's jaundiced eye.

Later on in the telephone conference call, Leon said in half-jest referring to the director, that at the beginning "Bill was rough on me," adding that the actor had "very strong thoughts" about his character, while Mr. Duke "had another thought".  The clash of opinions between actor and director, Leon posited, helped enhance the collaboration between the two overall.  "If you don't butt heads that means that both of the people (involved) aren't thinking."

"Cover" is now available on DVD in the U.S. and Canada from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

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