Updated: Jun 17
Every time London born and English-bred Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje towers over a subject in ‘Oz,’ I usually feel threatened! That’s how a character player should come across to his audience; indeed the casting manager, who got him onset, knew what he was looking out to film. Adewale’s tall frame, powerful-looking physique and deep Nigerian timbered voice, in his words ’…plays sinister, imposing characters of criminal or military backgrounds.’
Added to his background: graduated, Master’s Degree in Law from London's esteemed Kings College Adewale prepares his set appearances like a lawyer due to appear in court. “I would start two hours before I went to the set and I wouldn't say any other words other than the ones that I needed to say, that's just the way I work and I think that intensity comes across in my characters.”
When Adewale moved to Los Angeles he armed himself with that lawyerly delight and fluency in English, Italian, Yoruba and Swahili. Like he planned it all; somewhat so with appearances in Congo (1995), The Mummy Returns (2001). Ooops! Looking like he also probably understood Egyptian Hieroglyphics, huh? I don’t know! But Adewale situated himself well in HBO series Oz (1997).
So, he was given an opportunity to act, ’Knock those three guys out.’ Imagine the tall, scary dark skin Mandingo-like Nigerian male, waiting to hit the stars out of your brain. You dare not expect there will be no brain reset! According to him it was, ‘…better way to make an entrance on the set of Lost.’
Was he Nigerian-mannered like that? Which brings us to the issue of the real Nigerian, who has learnt to only trust himself. Indeed always trusting his guts, Adewale was brought up to take care of himself. Yes, a vibrant Nigerian, who otherwise found out that trust means ‘you do me, I godo you!’ He relishes that atmosphere in being one’s brother’s keeper.
Perhaps in dialectical terms Adewale’s Nigerian-English-Los Angeles hybrid has helped him switched into such customized characters; therefore his Method Acting Style. He simply lets out Hackney (London) and Eko (Lagos) personalities playout. To that extent Naija no dey carry last as he observed that newbies in the acting business may just feel out of place.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is the man to leave an impression or be himself be impressed. I guess that’s how good actors get into their character-play. He was so, impressed with the best bond with others on Lost (2004). Such socialization is the oil that lubricates emotions and reactions between character players in any movie.
The Overall Story drive depends on that character-soup of many ingredients, more so the subjective antagonism between the protagonist and the antagonist. Thus he embodied the cunning criminal character in Adebisi Oz (1997). He became mysterious 'Mr. Eko,' Lost (2004).
He personified sociopathic antagonism with Adebisi against Warden Glynn (Oz). He switched character inhabitation from that to a guardian-friend good friend in Kahega-Congo (1995).
You can’t blame Adewale, whose parents were ‘Tokunbo’ –‘Been-To’ in London; but retaining his Naija character (Omo Eko) has been able to express his Africanism so well. There is no missing his Nigerian bluff (gra gra) in his deep accent. Yet the London-brought-up kills his British accent, when down on the street.
Consequently from series Wale and the Boys(1995)and modelling suits his pictures opened Hollywood doors. Fitting into Atticus in Pompeii (2014), a failed romantic historical adventure, came naturally; while with 50 Cents, he mirrored Majestic in Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005) among other movie character interpretations.
On the whole Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is Buddhist, but Olorun knows why!