The upcoming premiere of Shots Fired is already one of the most emotional television events of the year, and it’s only March. The FOX drama shows the thorny aftermath of a police shooting, where a Black officer (Mack Wilds) fatally shoots a white, unarmed teenager. Filming such a racially-charged scene would be impossible for any cast, but one awful factor made it even worse for everyone on set.
Shots Fired filmed the actual shooting scene on the exact day the Philando Castile shooting started making headlines in July 2016. “Our first [assistant director], a Black woman, she could not start the day because Philando Castile had just be murdered the night before,” star Sanaa Lathan told the crowd at a Paley Center event recently. “It was just yet another one. It was so unbelievably heartbreaking.”
Legally-armed Black man Castile was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop, while his fiancée Diamond Reynolds and their 4-year-old daughter were in the car. Reynolds then livestreamed the upsetting fall-out on Facebook Live. Castile’s tragic death came just one day after the fatal police shooting of fellow Black man Alton Sterling.
The Shots Fired cast was overcome with grief on the day they would have to film their own police shooting. “We started the day with a prayer circle just to ask for grace so we could attack this subject matter with dignity and respect and give it everything it deserves. There were too many of those moments during shooting,” Lathan continued.
Although the cast was distraught over the disturbing headlines taking over national news, the man who would actually have to play the police officer shooting another person was possibly the most wrecked.
“I walked into my trailer, not remembering what we were shooting that day, and seeing my police uniform,” Mack Wilds told website Shadow And Act. “And it just broke me down. [Creators Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood] came to talk to me, and it took all that for me to remember why we were doing this.”
Although it took Wilds hours to come back to himself, he still managed to make it to set on that fateful July day. The Shots Fired premiere’s end-result proves the cast was "doing this" because it's important, heartbreaking, and unforgettable.