The movie “Stuck,” about six diverse New Yorkers who interact on a delayed subway train, was held at the station for years before it finally hits theaters on Friday.
But as Ashanti, one of the movie musical’s stars and executive producers, declared in her breakout hit with Ja Rule, she is always on time.
“They say everything happens for a reason and timing is everything,” said the Glen Cove native. “You know what’s so crazy? I think this is a really good time for the movie … I think people are becoming cold because we are under so much pressure and we are continuously worrying about how to just survive. This is a message that can let people know on both sides of the fence that it's still OK to talk.”
In “Stuck,” Ashanti plays Eve, who stands up for herself and some of the others on the train while working through her own problems. That mix of strength and softness, as well as the chance to sing in the film, appealed to her.
“This is something that I hadn't done and I was like, ‘Wow, this could be something cool’,” she said. “And just reading the script, the reality just set in, as a New Yorker and understanding the subway, this could really happen.”
When Ashanti started work on the movie, which also stars Giancarlo Esposito and Amy Madigan, she really felt a connection to Eve, especially because she was working on launching her album “Braveheart” at the same time in 2014. “When we filmed that, there were a couple of things going on in my life, a couple of really wild changes,” she said. “I was on my own, with my own label. I remember specifically the day that we shot my scene, where I had to sing my solo in the house, I also had to shoot a video with French Montana. And we were running behind.”
Ashanti had already paid for the video shoot and the director, so they were all waiting for her to finish the movie shoot, as well as remove the intricate braids that Eve wears in the movie. “I literally had to take all those braids out of my hair after the shoot and then get it rebraided the next day to shoot again,” she said. “It took like 27 hours. I had five girls taking braids out of my hair. It was crazy. But it definitely taught me that when I want something, I have to give it my all and just be determined to get it done, So to be able to say, I shot a video and I shot a film and they're both successful is a really cool feeling.”
“Stuck” director Michael Berry said Ashanti was the only actress he approached to play Eve, impressed by the stories she tells in her music and her performance as Dorothy in City Center's 2009 production of “The Wiz.”
“I thought she was really truthful and then I met with her and she's a blast,” Berry said. “She’s nice. She's so fun to make laugh. Her laugh is amazing. And she's a pro. She's just really, really ready to go. She wants to keep things simple, which is my favorite thing. And she really liked this character and she wanted to do it.”
Though “Stuck,” based on an Off-Broadway musical, was originally expected to be released in 2017, Berry said the delay may work to its advantage.
“Of all times, it's a good time for this movie,” he said. “It’s a good time for a movie about having compassion for people who are different from you, who have different beliefs and opinions.”
WHEN|WHERE In limited release Friday, at AMC Times Square and Cinema Village in Manhattan