Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje explains his intense role in “faster”

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is every bit the perfectionist. An intense actor, familiar with fans of the television show “Lost” and the HBO drama “Oz”, he always brings compassion to his characters. With upcoming projects such as “The Thing” and “The Killer Elite,” he talks to Samantha Ofole-Prince about his current heist movie “Faster” about an ex-con (Dewayne Johnson), who sets out to avenge his brother’s death after they were double-crossed during a bank robbery.

1. What’s the best way to describe this movie?
It’s an action packed ride with heart, and it deals with real issues of revenge, forgiveness and redemption. You get lots of eye candy, you get lots of action and there is a lot of drama.

2. What’s the attraction to a project like this aside from the paycheck?
What I liked about it when I read the script is that every single character in it has an arch, which is difficult to do with film because you don’t have a lot of time to tell the story. It’s an action film with a difference. It has a lot of heart and soul and a dept that the audience will be surprised with.

3. What would be that dream role for you as an actor?
I enjoy playing the character supporting actor, because they are richer and are not as predictable, but I would relish playing the lead man. The action man, who gets the girl, gets the stash and kills everybody. I would love to play that.

4. As an actor with several years in the business, have you perfected a method of portraying your characters that’s become second nature?
I stay in character for the entire time I am playing them, which makes it hard to socialize. In “Faster” it’s a different accent and if you come in and out of that, the consistency wavers and I am very much a perfectionist. I want to give the audience the upmost and so I stay in it. That’s my method, because that’s how I know how to do it and it’s worked so far.  I call it keeping in the character.

5. You play a bank robber turned evangelist in “Faster,” what sort of research did you undertake to perfect the character?
The director [George Tillman] comes from a background of ministry. His father was a minister, so we did extensive research on the type of ministers he wants in the movie. We watched videos and I read dialog and then I came up with how I wanted to project him.

6. Its often said that most actors are very self absorbed and vain. Do you see any of those traits in yourself?
I don’t know about vain. I think before I got into acting I was — being that I was a model, but when you become an actor you have to disarm yourself and just appear from who you are, because you are going to much deeper depth in your own spirituality and humanity and also with the characters that you portray.

7. Buddhism is not a religion hugely popular amongst Africans, and being of Afro-British descent, did you get any flak from your family when you became a Buddhist?
My family is used to me going against the grain. There are three lawyers in our family and being the only boy, I was intended to follow my father, but I went into entertainment and already that was perceived at the time as an abomination. By the time I became a Buddhist, they were already prepared. I think in truth, what they saw are the changes and benefits that it’s afforded me in life. Initially, it was like what the hell is he doing now, but to be honest, they are very used to me doing my own thing.

8. Most Buddhists are extremely spiritual people, who relate to the laws of Karma and as a Buddhist, what’s your definition of Karma?
Karma is an interesting word. It’s a spiritual thing and my understanding of karma is that it’s a collection of habits, which form a pattern, and it can be broken through prayer and faith and you can change whatever Karma you have.

9. As your career escalates and even more roles are offered to you, are there any limitations to the roles you will play?
I’m never going to say never to anything, for what is really going to motivate me is who that character is and the context of the story. If it’s a great story and arc, then I will consider it, but it has to resonate with who I am. I think that I have been rewarded this year by the amount of diverse roles I‘ve got. This is the fifth movie I am doing and right now I am on the set of the latest movie I am doing, which is “Best Laid Plans,” where I play a 37 year-old with a 7 year-old mentality.

10. Nigeria recently celebrated 50 years of independence. As an individual of Nigerian heritage, how do you view the country’s progress over the last 50 years?
We have certainly progressed, but there’s a lot to do. I think that economically we are burgeoning. We are creating new enterprises, certainly with Nollywood, now the second or third largest film industry in the world, but there is still a lot of infrastructure that has to be built to support the rest of the population. Meaning, you can’t just selfishly be going for money. There has to be the right apparatus to support Nigeria for it to come through, and that’s from education, welfare system, good lighting. Those elements still need to be addressed. I think we are always going to be enterprising as we find new ways to service and to generate revenue. We excel at that and we are great artists. We have progressed in certain areas, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

L-R: Adewale, Dewayne Johnson, Adewale

“Faster” is currently playing in theaters

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