Zaire Paige Not Only Played a Movie Killer, He Became One in Real Life.

This is how he squandered his big chance to go straight.

Eastman reflects on Paige's background and the path it put him on: "I was one of the few people in his life to show him that he was human. I am not here to judge a person's life—I'm not a judge and jury. I'm here to tell you that if you raise someone to be an animal, to survive at any cost, then do not be upset at what they become."

In the Park Slope apartment where Paige grew up, his grandmother keeps a meticulous record of his life in bulging file boxes: the Marvel comics, the laminated basketball cards, the records of hospital bills from police injuries, arrest reports, court files, and the family's many CCRB complaints.

In another box, she also keeps a copy of the next movie script that Paige had been given to read for a potential role. "An Emotional Homicide," is a tale of international criminal espionage: Using the U.N. as a front, a crime cartel is running a drug trafficking ring that stretches from Africa to the gangs of New York City. Bettie Paige, who still believes that her grandson is innocent of murder, was hoping that he would have a promising career in acting. But, as usual, she had concerns about the scripts he was getting.

Zaire Paige
Overture Films
Zaire Paige
Don Cheadle's "Tango" urges Paige's "Man Man" to make his court date.
Overture Films
Don Cheadle's "Tango" urges Paige's "Man Man" to make his court date.

"I don't want my son playing those stereotyped, cop-killing roles," she says, looking at the script and shaking her head. "For goodness' sake, do something that justifies your morals."

edwoskin@villagevoice.com

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