In 1989, five teenagers — four black and one Hispanic — were falsely accused and convicted of attacking and raping a white female jogger, dubbed the Central Park Five in a case that sparked an explosive media frenzy.
Now, Netflix is bringing that story to life on the small screen with the four-part miniseries “When They See Us”, with Joshua Jackson and Blair Underwood portraying the two lawyers that worked on the case.
While speaking with ET Canada digital reporter Graeme O’Neil, both Jackson and Underwood reveal that they’re not impressed with Donald Trump’s actions towards the situation 30 years ago, when the real-estate developer purchased full-page ads that ran in several New York City newspapers that read, “Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!”
“Here’s the thing, I hope that people everywhere on the planet will not just be like, ‘Wow, Trump did a bad thing, he’s an a*****e’,” Jackson explains. “I think we’re sort of settled on that question, but a grown person took out ads in New York across all the papers to call for the execution of children. Just wrap your head around that.”
When it comes to the generation of people that who not know a lot about the powerful true story, both Jackson and Underwood hope that audiences get to see the other side that mainstream media, at the time, may have missed.
“I think the stories get reduced and people get turned in caricatures and that’s what happened to the five. They got turned into not humans, but I mean they were called everything: they were a wolf pack, they were thugs, they were all the rest of this noise, and this humanizes them in that moment,” the 40-year-old Canadian actor says. “I think it’s important for audiences everywhere to, you know, recognize that these are current problems.”
“There’s an organization out called Black Lives Matter and it’s become a mantra. It’s current, it’s relevant. The inference to that is black lives matter too,” adds Underwood.
“The people who oppose that even message, say well, like, white lives matter, brown lives matter, of course. All lives matter. The inference is black lives matter too,” the 54-year-old continues. “So people who don’t understand the reality of being black in this country, a story like this can give you access through the humanity of these children and their true story.”
“When They See Us” premieres on Thursday, May 30.