Being a huge fan of Garage music, we were excited to interview young British actor Elliot Edusah, who is currently starring in the much-anticipated movie Pirates. Although Elliot was incredibly young (as found out in mid-conversation) during the turn of the millennium when the film was shot, I was curious to learn about his journey. So, who is Elliot Edusah? First impressions? After nervously introducing myself, Edusah seemed serious, but as soon as we began talking about his passion, I knew this was going to be a wonderful conversation.
Elliot, you attended the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology for two years, at college level and graduated in the class of 2018 from LAMDA, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, with a BA Honors in professional acting 2015 to 2018. Congratulations. Was acting a childhood dream?
E E – Yeah, I love that. And ever since I was little. I think I have always been a performer naturally. Like when I was little, I always wanted to become Michael Jackson So, I have always watched Beat It, Smooth, Billie Jean, there was just something I loved about performing and singing, and that gradually grew into acting, the older I became. But when I was young, I just loved performing and singing. That was my dream. I think my childhood dream would have been to be like Adele. Amy Winehouse, or Ed Sheeran? He smiles.
Fantastic. You played Adams in Outside the Wire, alongside Anthony Mackie, you starred in Steve McQueen’s anthology series Small Axe as Valin on Alex Wheatle, and Private Grey in 1917, to name a few. Out of so many significant roles you have as an actor, what was your favorite and why?
E E – Well, that is always a tough decision. It is extremely hard to pick a favorite because every role has had such a profound effect on me. And I loved every part, especially as they stand for different parts of me, and various paths I have walked. But if I had to pick one, I would certainly pick Cappo, from Pirates. It is just the way he sees London as a London that I recognize. Stepping into his shoes, which is a familiar feeling, the scent, the vibe, the energy is familiar to me.
I excitedly cut in to share with Elliot how familiar the old London scene was to me too because back then, I was the DJ’s girlfriend and we were running from one venue to another as DJ’s do. And, personally, I think that was the time Garage music “was” Garage music. For sure. For sure Elliot agrees. I love it. I still listen to it.
E E – I grew up on it. My dad would be pumping Garage music during the summer and my older siblings would love it. It was always part of my life and even growing up watching MTV Base and seeing So Solid Crew. So Solid Crew like 21 seconds to go (Elliot recites in song).
Learning the lyrics and watching over and over. Those days there was no ringtones. You could not just get a ringtone. So, you had to shhhhh people and then press record on the phone when it goes live on TV. And that is how we had the ringtones. So, I remember those days fondly. Yes, it is a very fond memory. And I have always loved garage. It was such an inspiration and such a great feeling to be able to bring that to the screen because it has remained untouched.
In the movie 1917 by director Sam Mendes, you starred alongside a few British heavyweight actors. One of my favorites being Mark Strong.
E E – I saw him in a performance of View from the Bridge and the Wyndham’s Theater about five years ago. Still, one of the best shows I have ever seen. “He is phenomenal” he adds.
I continue by listing Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch and Richard Madden to name a few – how was it to work with such a diverse group of people?
E E – It was a blessing. Working on such a big set on such a big project was amazing for me. Sam Mendes is a great guy. Roger Deakins is an amazing DOP (Director of Photography) one of the best in the world. He has worked on all the greatest films in history. So, it was a privilege just to be on set and just pick their brains. 1917 is such a unique piece of art, because no film has ever been filmed continuously like that without any edits or cuts. So, for me, I felt like I was being part of history, as well as playing a black soldier in a World War one film. That was a big responsibility for me, because I felt like I was representing the community, which hardly gets represented, especially in World War One films or other war films. But there were black soldiers there from all over the world – from the Caribbean, from Africa, and even from the UK. So, to be able to represent those people was such a blessing to me.
E E – Then he quickly adds: To work along with that cast was amazing, like to just be on a read-through and then look across and see Benedict Cumberbatch, who was, the patron of LAMDA. So, on my graduate certificate it says “signed off by Benedict Cumberbatch”. So, I got his autograph before I met him. he laughs. But it was great to work with such great actors, legendary people who have gotten so much experience and just seeing them in person and being in the same room of them; sharing the same air was great.
Oh, I can imagine, I can only imagine. Which of the fictional characters you have played would you be most excited to meet in real life? And why? I am quite sure that I know the answer.
It would definitely be Cappo. It is the fun and excitement of being a teenager in the late 90s that is so appealing. And there is something that is so unique about that experience of going out partying and not having people on their phones constantly taking selfies and not being in the moment. It was just a different vibe and London was just in a different place. The music was always about love. Having fun with different people, talking to strangers, getting to know people and being able to go out on a night with Cappo would be great.
Now you are starring in the widely anticipated movie, Pirates. How does it feel to work with the multi-talented Reggie Yates?
E E – Reggie Yates – THE Reggie Yates! He is a renaissance man, a man of many talents. There is nothing Reggie cannot do. Honestly, just working with him is inspiring. Going to set every day was inspiring. He is a magical man. He has taught us all a lot, both on and off camera. And he has so much experience and has seen so many places in the world, so was also able to educate us about a whole host of things that we might have questions about that didn’t necessarily have anything to do with acting. I think I’ve learned so much from that man. He gave us so much of his time and he was incredibly collaborative. He created an incredibly unique and special working environment, where we felt free to take risks, to fail, to improvise, to look silly and to be fools. We came on set and because our characters have all got nicknames, (Elliot is Cappo, Reda Elazouar portrays Kidda and Jordan Peters is Two-Tonne), everyone on set, including the crew all had nicknames. Oh, lovely.
Elliot continues no one was called by their government-issued name. So, it really kept us in our own little world which was great on set. So yes, working with Reggie was great and I would love to work with him again because he has such a great mind and is such a renowned artist.
What attracted you to the Cappo character? you know, when they gave you the script, you read it and thought…
So, you know, the thing about Cappo is that he’s the brains of the bunch; he is the man with the plan. He is naturally a leader, and you get to see that in the film…that sense of responsibility. I could connect with that. I could also connect with the fact that Cappo, came back from university in school, and he saw a change in his friends and the dynamic changed. And it may not be particularly what they want to see. Elliot then went on to explain that he has a similar experience when he returned home after the time, he spent at LAMDA. How his friends noticed a difference in how he pronounced certain words, but due to acting training he learned to say things properly. I could really relate to that juxtaposition of moving from one environment to the other place that used to feel familiar to you, and feeling strange. And that conflict of growing up and growing out of friendships, but also loving the people that you’re with and maturing as a man and finding your own identity. One thing I could really connect to is that as men, we feel like we must be macho and masculine; we must keep all our emotions in and not share anything, when that’s not the case at all. And I think that’s something that Cappo suffers with and sometimes what I suffer with too – and throughout the film, you get to see the conflict of what happens when you don’t open-up to those closest to you. I think that’s a particularly important thing about the film because there are times when Cappo is extremely vulnerable amongst his friends. And that’s something that people aren’t familiar with, but it is a reality. Men are vulnerable, we have feelings. So, I think that was particularly important for me to portray when I was taking on that role, and it’s something that I’m extremely passionate about in my own life as well.
Oh, wonderful answer. Really, wonderful. It explains to the core “Who Cappo is? Yes. I remember very well the Millennium New Year’s Eve as I told you before, do you remember yours or were you too young?
Yes, I remember exactly. I was probably drinking breast milk, or playing with toys, or crying or pooping. Yeah, I was about three years old, born in 1997. I had the gift of the gab. So, I was probably jabbering to my mom – I do not think I had many plans other than eating, we both laugh.
Have you ever found yourself in a New Year’s nowhere to go situation?
That is pretty much every year. See, Cappo is a man with a plan. But I go with the flow. So, a lot of time I’m not really a planner. On the night I’ll go to church with my family and if something pops up after that, then boom, I’m out. But yes, I’m more of a quiet guy in new years to be honest. I kind of like reflecting and being like, oh, what am I going to do next year? What are my goals? I like being by myself and then kind of entering the year by myself and not feeling like I must be, somebody else around other people. You know what I mean?
Good. Calmer years I add, you are different from Cappo. Elliot laughs and explains Oh, yes, they’re having a wonderful time. You know, I used to when I was much younger, but I think as you get older you appreciate your own space.
Yes. And what can the public expect from Pirates?
Okay, so the public can expect to see a feel-good, feel-good film about three friends, traveling around London and trying to have the best night of their lives. My word of advice is that when you’re watching pirates you must wear loose jeans, because you are going to be laughing, a lot. So, wear loose trousers, wear something comfortable because it’s a very funny film. Expect to have a fun time. But also expect to connect to each of the three main characters, three different boys from three different walks of life, who come together and are brought together by music.
Oh, fantastic. Well, I look forward to watching it very much. And love it. I am sure I will. It is like, the soundtrack. Wookie, Battle is the TUNE.
E E – Oh, man. Tune. It is just the vibe. Absolutely.
And how do you how did you feel when the pandemic almost brought you all your arduous work on Pirates to a sudden halt?
E E – It was a tough time, I think for everyone, especially with what was going on around the world. People passing away, people getting terribly ill. That was our main concern. It was sad to stop filming but I think when you look at the bigger picture, it was the right decision. We started in February 2020, and we finished around second week of March because of the lockdown. The break in filming meant that Reggie had time to cut the half of the film that had been shot so far. So, he got to see where any inconsistencies were, or parts that he felt were missing. He then added more scenes, more flavor into it. And honestly, Pirates is an incredible film due to the extra time that Reggie had to work on it and reflect on it during the pandemic. It is such a privilege because as you know, in this industry, we are against time and are always racing against the clock. At the same time, I think as brothers and as boys, we all got to become really close over that period. We were always texting and we had a group chat with Reggie. It kept the spirit alive whilst we waited for production to start again, because there were times where we thought it might not be able to go ahead. So, it was a very anxious time. But there was also a lot of great moments in that lockdown too, because we learned a lot about each other. And as a result, I think we became stronger as a team. We also got to work with so many more great people, because as you know, with films, crews often move around. And that was a blessing as well.
Yes. Like we say glass half full?
E E – Yes. 100%. I am an optimist. So, I always try to look at it.
Fantastic. Anything else in the works that you can talk about? Any new projects?
E E – Yes, yes. So next year I can be seen in Sky’s new production of Django, which is set to be an original reimagination of the 1966 Western classic by Sergio Corbucci. It is set in the Wild West in the 1860s and 70s and I will be playing Andrew Ellis, the son of Nicholas Pinnock’s character John. There is a great cast including Matthias Schoenaerts and Noomi Rapace. I’ve worked a lot with Matthias – he is a stunning actor, a great man as well. I learned a lot from him. We really connected and we still talk all the time, every day. I am really looking forward to that project. That was another childhood dream of mine, being in a Western. I kept thinking how am I going to get in a Western? How am I, a boy from East London going to get into Western? And you know, God does wonderful things, so here we are.
As the interview ended, I felt sad to say goodbye as we could have spent a few more hours chatting. But satisfied to have gotten to know such a young, talented and down to earth star. A young mind with clear direction and who I am sure will go extremely far!!
Yes, there you are. Fantastic. So, we can expect to see you next on Pirates. I really look forward to it. It has been a pleasure, Elliot, an absolute pleasure speaking to you.
E E – Thank you. Thank you. You have been wonderful. You have been great. Hope to see you again.
Hope to see you again too Elliot. Take care.