The 31st Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards took place on Feb. 28, 2016, at the beach in Santa Monica, Calif. Here is what this Spirit Award winner said backstage in the Spirit Awards press room.
Best Supporting Male
(“Beasts of No Nation”)
How did you bring humanity to a character who does a lot of inhumane things?
It was a challenge, for sure. The challenge was not to demonize him, not to put the audience through something that is not realistic or cliché. These are people, and sh*t happens. It was really important.
It was hard. I literally had a baby a month before I started filming. It was my first son, and then I went off and made that film. It was the toughest thing for me to do, because my mind wasn’t in that space. So it became a challenge that I really had to embrace.
You’re also a producer of “Beasts of No Nation.” How exciting is it for you as a producer to see all the acclaim that this movie is getting?
If I’m honest, I’m so much more proud about being a producer than my performance, because as a producer, you face a lot of elements, such as doors being slammed in your face. We did have a hard time making it. We got there in the end, and it was worth it. It wasn’t about me or my performance. It was a group effort. And that’s a really fulfilling journey, you know?
How did the crew members, such as the costume designer, embody such a difficult character?
The crew are very much a family. Actually, Cary [Fukunaga, director of “Beasts of No Nation”] brought his crew from “True Detective,” and they were a well-oiled engine. And without a doubt, you just felt supported. It was more like filming a documentary than a [feature] film crew.
They just showed up ready to work all the time. The costume team were incredible. They helped me sculpt this character and bring it alive. It’s super-important about costume and make-up. It’s a collaborative effort. I had a great time doing that.
How did you physically prepare for your role in “Beasts of No Nation”?
I ate a lot. I got really fat. No, there was no real physical preparation, to be honest. It was a lot of cerebral exercise. I did have a weird haircut. That was hard to wear every day.
What’s your fitness regime?
I’m not in good shape. I have a bad back. I played basketball yesterday, and it turns out my jump shot isn’t all that anymore, so I was stiff. But you know what? Keeping in shape is about a healthy mind and healthy food, to be honest. It was so great.
What was it like to film where you filmed “Beasts of No Nation”?
In Ghana? Ghana is beautiful. It was the first time I ever made a film on this level. And they were embracing and adaptable. I’m half-Ghanaian, so it was incredible. It was like a homecoming to me.
Will all of your recent awards recognition, will this pave the way for a “Luther” film?
I’m excited about a “Luther” film. It’s not a reality yet, but it’s something I can hopefully get off the ground. The more my career grows, the more opportunities that are afforded my way, so hopefully, we can make it happen.
For more info: Spirit Awards website
RELATED LINKS ON byteclay.com:
Spirit Award interviews