The 61-year-old actor stars in the upcoming film about the three African-American women who worked behind the scenes to help NASA make John Glenn become the first American astronaut to orbit Earth in 1962. Kevin plays director of the Space Task Group Al Harrison, a fictional character who stands up against gender and racial bias in the corporation, though the part took some work to become so important.

“My character was one they didn’t have the rights to,” Kevin told beliefnet.com. “So he really was an amalgamation of three people and it read like that. I almost didn’t do the movie because the character didn’t make a lot of sense to me, his contributions weren’t enough to prop up the girls. It was just kind of moving from room to room and saying things that were very contradictory.”

Keen to change things, Kevin approached writer and director Theodore Melfi with his concerns. Warning that Al Harrison doesn’t “survive” in the screenplay because he’s so inconsistent, the pair worked together to flesh the part out.

The Bodyguard actor previously admitted that he was actually completely unaware of the women who accomplished such a victory for the United States and feels somewhat embarrassed by his ignorance.

“I think to myself, ‘Knothead, why didn’t you know?’ Of course, there were African-American people that contributed in so many ways in this country,” he told GoldDerby. “Why would I be surprised that in this particular film, with everything on the line, it came down to old-fashioned math and a little girl who we saw in this movie as an eight-year-old who could completely blow college men away became the woman that John Glenn said yes to?”

Taraji P. Henson plays mathematician Katherine Johnson, while Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae play her colleagues Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. The movie, released next month (Jan17), is already up for countless awards including Golden Globe and SAG nods for Octavia.