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Kate Hudson Takes the Stand Against Sterling K. Brown in Marshall Scene

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Kate Hudson and Sterling K. Brown had to dig deep for an emotional scene in Marshall.

The actors star in the biopic about Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. While Chadwick Boseman embodies the late judge as a young lawyer, it’s Hudson’s teary performance recounting an alleged rape by Brown’s character that dominates this courtroom scene, exclusive to PEOPLE.

Director Reginald Hudlin tells PEOPLE that the flashback scene in which they recreate the assault Hudson is recounting on the stand was difficult to shoot.

“This is one of the most intense scenes in the film. Three amazing actors [Hudson, Brown and Dan Stevens] all playing very different roles than we are used to seeing them do,” Hudlin says. “Kate’s vulnerability is heartbreaking. In this moment, we are worried that our heroes [Boseman and Josh Gad] could very much be on the wrong side.”

The story follows one of Marshall’s first cases in which a black chauffeur (Brown) is accused of rape by his boss’s wife, a southern aristocrat living in Connecticut, played by Hudson. But because of his race, Marshall has to partner up with a white lawyer (Gad) to help him win over the jury.

These actors bravely took these roles not only for the artistic challenge of playing characters very different from themselves, but also because they believe in the message of the movie, which is that if we come together and fight for the truth, then the truth will set us all free,” the director says. 

Marshall is out in theaters Friday.