Wendell Pierce Explains How 'One Last Thing' Explores Fatherhood And Family

"I relied on my experience with my father a lot when thinking about Dylan."

This June, A Plus is celebrating Father's Day and the release of the film One Last Thing, a one night only Chicken Soup for the Soul event, with a cavalcade of dad stories, videos and — of course — jokes. The film is playing nationwide on June 13.

If you're a fan of TV, you've most certainly come across Wendell Pierce in shows like The Wire, Treme, and Suits. But now he's taking on a role that he hopes will challenge some of society's norms — that role is Dylan Derringer in Tim Rouhana's debut feature, One Last Thing.

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Dylan is a lonely dentist in Florida who is encouraged by his dental assistant Jaime (Joanne Froggatt) to reunite with his long-lost daughter Lucy (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) after years apart, sending him on an eventful and ultimately life-changing journey of discovery. There are many twists and turns in the story along the way — no spoilers here — but all was in good hands during Rouhana's first time behind the camera.

"Tim started as an actor, so he understands how to speak with actors," Pierce told A Plus. "The most difficulties you always have — whether it's a new director or a seasoned director — is how well they communicate their vision to the actor and also give direction that the actor needs. There's a process to acting and there's a way of working that he understands and appreciates. That made it nice and smooth."

Courtesy: One Last Thing

What drew Pierce to the role of Dylan was how different it is from the other characters he has played in his career. He pointed out that he believes this is a part — describing Dylan as a "vulnerable" and "sensitive" man — people wouldn't necessarily expect to see him play. That is exactly the reason why he wanted to explore Dylan because it's about building a body of work that shows a deep range.

One of the striking things about One Last Thing, and something Pierce appreciates about it is the effortless intersectionality of it. While this isn't what the film is about per se, it is something that stands out given the societal conversation around inclusion and representation that has been so important in Hollywood as of late.

Courtesy: One Last Thing

"The reason it stands out so much is because there's such a dearth of diverse images and diverse stories in it that we so seldom get to see. We're conditioned to only see images of the same people over and over again," Pierce explained. "It just happens to be who these people are. So seldom do we get diversity in our imagery because we're so conditioned to all these ignorant tropes of bigotry and narrow-mindedness."

Another important aspect of One Last Thing is the idea of fatherhood, a new concept Dylan is figuring out for the first time. Though Pierce has no children, he takes care of his 93-year-old father, a World War II vet, who helped inspire him when playing Dylan. 

Courtesy: One Last Thing

"I honor my father and I love my father very deeply. He has sacrificed so much to ensure that I have a wonderful life and I'm making sure that his golden years are comfortable. I'm paying him back," Pierce noted. "He made a promise to himself that he would never abandon his kids and make sure that that they had very successful lives. He's estranged from his dad and he said he didn't want to repeat that mistake. He's always been there and we have grown closer since the death of my mother."

"He just gave me a great example of what fatherhood was all about," Pierce added. "He showed courage and distinction of character you rarely see and taught me great lessons in life. He's still teaching me. I relied on my experience with my father a lot when thinking about Dylan."

Courtesy: One Last Thing

Beyond fatherhood, One Last Thing also has a lot to say about the concept of family, specifically what constitutes a family bond between individuals. While most may think of family as those you are related to biologically, Pierce pointed out that sometimes you're lucky to find a family that you aren't necessarily born into.

"Family is the greatest connection you will have to your past and most likely will be there for you in the future. Family is a love that is about protection and the understanding that you're connected in a very special way," Pierce concluded. " That happens biologically — but it also happens by choice. Friends are the family that you get to choose and not just have to be born into. That family is just as great as any other, really. The movie is about love, family love, and the fact that family is who you choose it to be and who you choose to do it and build it with. That's family, no matter what and no matter who."

Editor's note: A Plus and the distributor of One Last Thing share a parent company, Chicken Soup for the Soul LLC.

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