UB Exclusive Interview: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Speaks “The Thing”

Whether you are a fan of the John Carpenter film or not, “The Thing (Universal Pictures)” (opened at #3 this past-weekend) is a must-see! The movie is shot as a prequel and you will definitely get the films tag line “it’s not human yet” within the first 30 minutes of the film.

At an Antarctica research site, the discovery of an alien craft leads to a confrontation between graduate student Kate Lloyd and scientist Dr. Sander Halvorson. While Dr. Halvorson keeps to his research, Kate partners with Sam Carter, a helicopter pilot, to pursue the alien life form.

The movie is filled with various favorite actors from Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Oz, GI Joe, Lost) to Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3) and Joel Edgerton (Warrior). Oh, and for those curious about the typical horror film standard, “no the black character does not die first.”

The producers did not slack in the CGI department either. The special effects used for “The Thing” is out of this world and you will definitely jump out of your seat a few times before the movie’s conclusion. With a great story build-up and nice climax, “The Thing” is definitely a movie to see for horror fans and suspense thriller fans alike. Despite some predictable scenes (which are hard to escape when following the horror format), the movie is definitely up to par with other horror/action films and its theatrical release is just in time for Halloween. The movie is filled with scenes that “trick” your mind as to where The Thing is next and the “treat” is that you are in store for 103 minutes of non-stop thrill.

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Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was born in London, England. After earning a Masters Degree in Law from London‘s prestigious Kings College, a career in acting came his way when acclaimed producer and director Frank Marshall cast him in the Paramount blockbuster Congo, leading to a prolific career in film and television.

He soon became a household name starring as the murderous, drug-addicted prisoner Adebisi in HBO‘s hit television series Oz, which earned him critical and audience acclaim, as well as two NAACP Award nominations.

Akinnuoye-Agbaje subsequently focused on his film career, starring in such blockbusters as The Mummy Returns, The Bourne Identity, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ & G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

He became known worldwide as the mysterious Mr. Eko in J.J. Abrams‘ acclaimed hit TV series Lost, for which he and the cast earned the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble.

JDot. from UrbanBridgez.com sat down with AAA and spoke to him about his latest blockbuster “The Thing,’ his thoughts on President Barack Obama, his role on the hit HBO series OZ, up-coming projects & much more!

UrbanBridgez.com: Tell me how you became apart of the cast for the movie “The Thing?”
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: It was a pretty standard and easy process for me. The producers (who were fans of my work) had me in mind for this character. It was strange because I normally play the bad guy, but they thought this would be an interesting role for me to play as an “all American-guy.” I was very familiar with the John Carpenter version as well. I’ve played several different roles this year including a paraplegic in “Best Laid Plans,” and a villain in the upcoming “Bullet to the Head.”

UrbanBridgez.com: What was it about the character Jameson that drew you to the role?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: The fact that he was an “All American-guy.” He’s a nice guy, easy going. There was one endearing quality about that character certainly that I read in the script which was that he was loyal. I thought that was a very endearing quality that I wanted to display. I wanted to get my “Top Gun” on and put on the shades and the hat and be a pilot. It was fun!

UrbanBridgez.com: I attended the screening last night, and without giving away too much of the movie, there was a part where your curiosity made me say, “Damn, not the black guy already.” How was your reaction to the script when reading about your character and his curiosity with the creature?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: (laughing) I think I said the same thing like you, “Oh hell no! So soon? It’s 2011, can’t we push the bar up a little further.” So we kind of scraped it a little further along the line (laughing). But yeah, I had the same apprehension you did.

UrbanBridgez.com: Were you a fan of “The Thing” franchise before signing onto the prequel?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Yeah, I was definitely familiar with both versions and also a fan of the John Carpenter version. I particularly liked the Carpenter one because it had the suspense and thriller aspect. It wasn’t just a horror movie. It was a “who’s who” type approach. This was certainly something that we paid homage to in the prequel. It’s really well displayed in one particular scene. I definitely was a fan of that.

UrbanBridgez.com: How do you feel this version of “The Thing” stands next to the previous versions?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: I think it stands on it’s own but it pays homage to both versions before it. The 1950’s movie has the paranoia that existed during the Cold War error. That’s incorporated in this film where you have the Europeans against the Americans in this version. And then the obvious draw is from the Carpenter version with the suspense and thrill aspect. Then you have these creatures that are just unreal and brilliantly gross.

UrbanBridgez.com: Do you think there will be another part to the Prequel franchise of “The Thing?”
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Well, anything is possible. I think ultimately it depends on how successful the movie is and if the producers want to go that route. They might just want to do a one-hit or not. I think a lot of it comes down to the audience and how well they like and respond to the movie.

UrbanBridgez.com: Do you feel that President Barack Obama’s presidency has made an impact and difference for black actors in Hollywood today?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: I think it’s definitely had an impact on the whole world, but particularly on our industry. It’s a phenomenal phenomenon to have a black man as the President of the United States. I mean, let’s not even get jaded on this. When you see the journey of Black Americans from slavery; from Africa to slavery to civil rights to where we are now…to leading the country. That is a phenomenal achievement in a relatively short space of time. The impact that it’s had is incredible. Now to see black actors in positions of authority, it’s no longer novelty. He’s set the bar. We have an example. It’s no longer a figment. It’s a reality. We can have a black President in a movie. I played a character in the “Killer Elite” and what intrigued me about playing this character is that he was in control. He was in a suit and tie running the show. You don’t ordinarily get to see that. He was the boss of Robert Dinero. He was the manipulator, the dealmaker. I thought that was interesting to not only see in the movies but to see me as an actor playing a role like that. I know it’s a trickle down effect, and I hope to see it more. I don’t think it’s just President Obama’s achievement, it’s also black peoples achievement because we all supported to get him there. What that means is that I think people are going to be less afraid to tell stories of black victory and achievement from Broadway to TV and film and all over.

UrbanBridgez.com: I know you mentioned a couple of other movies that you have coming out. Can you tell the fans about the other projects that you are working on?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: They can certainly expect before the end of the year, a British indie where I play a paraplegic who is a man with a seven year old mentality. The film is based on the famous “Of Mice and Men” book. “Bullet to the Head” will also be out next Spring with Sylvester Stallone and Christian Slater. And then we are looking at other options right now. “Killer Elite” is still in theaters now, so if they are bored they can catch me in that now as well.

UrbanBridgez.com: A lot of people know you from your previous role in the HBO hit TV series OZ. Do you feel the role that you played in that series hurt or helped your career today?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: That show was grounding breaking and so was the role that I played. I definitely do not think it hurt anything. It definitely helped my career and helped me get more roles after shooting that show. It was definitely an asset.

UrbanBridgez.com: What is your dream role and why?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: To be a badass cop on the right side of the road but a bad guy. Just to be a sexy action man with a badge (laughing). Let’s do this!

UrbanBridgez.com: What do you prefer, TV roles or film roles?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: I don’t look at the medium; I look at the role and the story. If the story is good and my part in that story is good whether it’s on TV or film is irrelevant to me. I suppose the only difference is that I like film with its diversity. For three months you can play one character and then move on to the next character in another film. I’ll do it all!

UrbanBridgez.com: What’s one thing about you that people don’t know?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: (laughing) I play the trumpet and I like to cook. I’m a good cook. I use cooking to ground me because I’m always in airplanes in hotels. So everyone come over!

UrbanBridgez.com: Any closing comments for your fans that have been following you for years now?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: All I can say is I’m really indebted and grateful for everyone’s support. All I try to do is put 150 percent in so that it resonates with the viewers. Thank you so much! If they ever want to get in touch with me they can Twitter me and if they have any questions that we haven’t covered they can reach me at @TheOneTripleA.


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