RJ Mitte Speaks on Role as Police in ‘River Runs Red’

ATM: How does the word “protect” fit in story-line regarding the police officers in the film?

RJ: My position in the movie is to get the suspect that is hunted on by the lead characters into protective custody. I am governing him in this matter despite what he may have or may not have done. The role of this office was to protect him and was to put his life on the line for someone who may not be bad. This is a role that a lot of officers’ play, which is being a duty to citizens. A lot of officers who have to make these decisions usually put their life on the line for what they believe to be right for what they need to do. You have a lot of people who join the police force for power. My role was not this. My character was a bystander into a more devious position. It was not a color issue, but to protect this individual when it came down to what was right or wrong.

It was not necessarily my judgment even though my character disagrees and does not want to be in this situation. I had to do what I was commanded to do. With other officers, it is a travesty and a tragedy when you see people so willingly take lives and diminish an individual’s value just by their color or a profile of what that they or may not be. This is where it leads to issues. I feel that discrimination and racism take into an effect of a judgment, which we do not need.

ATM: What are your comments about the subject in this story-line?

RJ: It is so important to tell these stories and not from one type of side. This was not just a film about white cops killing black kids or others. It was more or less about showing the sides of the justice system. In this, you see, where the justice system fails a father. This father realizes he and his family is a part of this same system. He figures out what he needs to do to take justice. He is not just a judge, but he is a father. He wants to protect a family. Some people fit into this category of being a part of a failed system and community. They are feeling ostracized and alienated. This is what the story-line gets out it. This individual getting ostracized and his son getting set up.

He comes together in finding a community who has also been ostracized and played. It is just an everyday person in defining these characters. It’s not only one type of person. A lot of people feel they cannot trust the police force or their politicians. They must take matters into their own hands. They have to be ready to relinquish or gain control over their life. They say, “I was not stand by and let corruption or let the system forget about me and move on another regulation. They should represent me.” We captured this very well.

It was not just the actions of a dirty cop. There is a dirty cop that instigates all of this, but the conflict of “I did that.” And the aftermath of living with this and accepting this. Also, on the side of the victims and how they view this event. It is messy and dirty. It is something we cannot comprehend unless it is happening to us. It is happening to people. Not every incident is going to be a hate crime. No one wants to take a life. I have never seen anyone that I know that has been put in this position and enjoys taking a life. Or enjoy what may or may not happen in this instance. It is a trauma and something they have to live with.

The guilt eats at them. They feel, “How could I have done something differently? How could I make the difference? What in this instant? When you pull this trigger, there is no turning back, and there is no recourse. Once you make this decision, you have to accept these consequences. You cannot try to hide behind them. I find that people try to hide and justify what they did and what they did not do. You have to live with these consequences no matter how much you have to justify them or not. You made this decision and took this life. If someone gets satisfaction from this, then something is seriously wrong, and you should seek help.

It is knowledge intent over power. We need to stay away from this thinking. We need to be alert to this and know there is evil power. It is not just people wearing a uniform. This uniform signifies something else. It is about what is inside this uniform that defines good and evil. Anyone can mask being good and evil. It is someone’s actions that define this. We have to find good in our world. We must find how we can protect the innocent.

ATM: Does this film allow you to see a different view of people in this world?

RJ: This was something that was already enlightening to me. It was not like “Oh, this is something I never knew.” I joined because I knew the people who were involved and who was famous. I believe they were creating a well-rounded story. This story had moments people would enjoy. It would bring awareness to not only the social issues but to the human issues that we have inside ourselves. Even though the content is heavy, I still got into some gunfights and gunplay. This was the main reason why I joined the project as well as the content.