'Moonlight' Clip: André Holland on Conjuring the Romance at the Center of the Oscar-Nominated Drama (Exclusive)

·Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Imagine having to manufacture a whole history with someone you’d only just met. That’s the unenviable position that Moonlight co-stars Trevante Rhodes and Andre Holland found themselves in when they encountered each other on the set of Barry Jenkins’s acclaimed drama, which is up for eight awards, including Best Picture, at this Sunday’s Oscars ceremony. “Trevante and I had not met in person before shooting our first scene,” Holland tells Yahoo Movies. “We talked for about 15 minutes, and then we started [filming].”

[Watch the actors discuss their collaboration — and why Jenkins deliberately kept them apart prior to shooting — in an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip from the Moonlight Blu-ray, available on Feb. 28, above.]

Related: Why Naomie Harris Asked Child Actor to Leave Set During ‘Moonlight’ Outburst Scene

Raising the stakes of that first scene is the fact that both Holland and Rhodes had to communicate a lifetime’s worth of experiences between their characters on the spot. Told in three chapters, Moonlight is a coming-of-age story that follows young Chiron from childhood to adulthood, as he wrestles with his emerging sexuality and intense attraction to a school friend, Kevin. Rhodes and Holland inherit these respective roles in the film’s third and final segment, which picks up roughly a decade after their teenage years, when they acted upon their mutual attraction only to part ways under terrible circumstances.

While Chiron is at the center of the film, Moonlight is equally Kevin’s story, and the contrast between the two when we meet them again as adults is striking. While Chiron keeps his true identity bottled up in an alpha male’s muscular body, Kevin is more at ease in his own skin — to a point, anyway. “I don’t imagine that he’s openly living the life of a gay man,” says Holland, who devised his own backstory for Kevin to fill in the missing years between the second and third segments. “He’s still very much in a community where he has to wear a bit of a mask. But the experience of meeting Chiron again allows him to be who he is. That’s the magic of their reunion: They find a harbor in each other.”

Related: Mahershala Ali Talks About Finding Humanity in His Criminal ‘Moonlight’ Character

Kevin re-connects with Chiron over a meal at the Miami diner where he serves triple duty as chef, cashier, and waiter. Rather than make his old flame order off the menu, Kevin whips up a special plate of Cuban favorites that Holland says he prepared entirely by himself. “I really wanted to use my hands to make that meal,” he explains, admitting that he received some plating lessons from the restaurant’s owner, off camera. “The cilantro topping was a bit problematic; I wanted to chop it enough to where it looked cool on the plate, but it was so wet and small. Every time I see the movie, I’m like, ‘Oh, I wish I had chopped it a little finer!'”

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