Photographer: Jemima Marriott
Elliot Edusah, we saw him in the epic 1917, and now he is storming the industry with his role in Reggie Yate’s brilliant new film ‘Pirates’. Elliot is to star in SKY’s ‘Django’ released next year, and we just can’t wait to see what his next move is…
Hi Elliot whereabouts in the world are you today?
Today I’m in Forest Gate, East London, United Kingdom
You star in Reggie Yates directorial debut ‘Pirates’ can you tell us a bit about that?
So I star in ‘Pirates’ a comedy written and directed by Reggie Yates. I play Cappo, the manager of the Ice Cold Crew and the brains of the bunch. The film is set on New Year’s Eve 1999, the story follows three best mates, Cappo, Two Tonne (Jordan Peters) and Kidda (Reda Elazouar), trying to break into the music scene through Pirate radio. They drive through London in their tiny Peugeot, pumping a live garage set from the stereo and arguing about their Avirex jackets and Naf Naf imports. As the eighteen-year olds step into adulthood they know their lives and friendships are on the brink of change. Determined to see out the century with a bang, they drive from place to place in a desperate search for tickets for the best millennium party ever.
How did you get into the character of Cappo? Do you see any similarities between yourself and the character?
I watched many documentaries on YouTube about the Garage scene and how all these garage acts were blowing up out of nowhere. Then I did a lot of research on the clothing and aesthetics. It was very different when it came to fashion. People were much more unique. It was about having your own style and identity and less about what everyone else was wearing. Men also used to dress very smart. When we were going out it was shirt, tie, blazer, shoes. That’s changed a lot. Now you see someone out in the tracksuit and that’s considered sexy and cool.
Reggie also connected us with a lot of people when we went away. We had a lot of phone calls with people like Lonyo, who made ‘Garage Girls’ and DJ Spoony, and they were just telling us about the manorhood and how people used to act and just the culture behind it, because that’s something that you can’t research.
I could also really relate to Cappo’s story, the feeling of leaving all your friends to go to a place where you don’t know anybody and having to evolve and adapt to your environment. I could relate to that peculiar feeling of returning back to where you grew up and the feeling of separation and distance as your perspectives have broadened by leaving that particular environment. Things are different and you also feel different.
“Smiles are infectious and it can make someone’s day just that little bit better.”
‘Pirates’ is a very fun film, what was it like behind the scenes? Do you have a favourite memory from your time filming?
My favourite memory from the filming process was spending my birthday on set. We were filming in South End for a couple of days and had to stay overnight in a hotel by the sea, so I didn’t get to see my family on my birthday which was unfortunate, but I had a great view from my hotel room, so I couldn’t complain. The cast and crew were all on lunch in the same room, and then suddenly the producers, Polly and Kate walk in with a cake and candles, and everyone sang me happy birthday – it was amazing. But what happened next was funny, because Reggie had bought me a gift and told me to open it in front of everyone. I unwrapped the gift and revealed an OFF White x Nike Air Presto trainers box which I was so happy about, only to open it and find crocs…CROCS! The whole cast and crew started laughing, it was a great moment. I was grateful for the crocs and the cake and was halfway through saying thank you to everyone when seconds later, Reggie throws me the real trainers, and everyone cheered. It was definitely my best birthday, doing what you love on the day you were born is a great feeling.
You were also in the epic ‘1917’, can you give us some insights into what it was like to be a part of such a uniquely filmed movie?
It was a gift from God, 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.
Next year you will be starring in SKY’s ‘Django’ can you tell us anything about that?
Yes, yes. The TV series 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 really great cast including Matthias Schoenaerts and Noomi Rapace. I’ve worked a lot with Matthias – he is a brilliant actor and a great man as well. I learned a lot from him. We really connected and we still talk all the time. That was another childhood dream of mine, being in a Western. I kept thinking how am I, a boy from East London going to get into Western? And now here we are.
“1917 is such a unique piece of art, because no film has ever been filmed continuously like that without any edits or cuts”
Where next do you want to go with your acting? What sort of characters would you like to play?
The sky is the limit, I don’t want to put myself in any boxes or limit myself to what I think I’m capable of now, I really just want to tell pure, honest stories and represent characters with depth and detail.
Can you name 3 actors you would love to work with?
Who are your biggest inspirations?
My biggest inspirations are directors/ writers such as Steve McQueen, Michaela Cole, Jordan Peele, Barry Jenkins, Ava DuVernay…they all really push the boundaries and take risks when it comes to portraying challenging stories. They also help break that black stereotype with three dimensional characters who are not defined by their race, but by the content of their character.
“I’ve always had a love for photography – especially vintage, old-school grainy images”
At Cool America we believe in positive changes no matter how small or big -what do you do every day to make the world a better place ?
Smile at a stranger, it’s the easiest thing to do in the world but nobody in London does it. Smiles are infectious and it can make someone’s day just that little bit better.
Which role have you found the most challenging?
I think my most challenging role was playing Valentine Golding in Small Axe. The time period was very specific, so getting the right blend of Cockney and Jamaican for the accent was very tricky. As the film was set in 1980’s Brixton, we really had to tap into the culture, and do tonnes of research to understand and appreciate the world our characters would’ve lived in. I was also playing a real person, so it was imperative that I was as accurate as I could possibly be.
And the easiest and most natural role you’ve slipped into?
I think Cappo is probably the most natural role that I have taken on. We both live in a similar London, have similar friends and interests but most importantly we both have that deep love for music.
Aside from acting, what makes Elliot tick?
I love music. If I’m not writing it, I’m in the studio with my boys working on their music or just catching a vibe, I think it’s my escape from the mental life of an actor but also music is my remedy. Bob Marley has a quote about music, and I completely agree with him “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”
What do you get up to in your spare time?
I’ve always had a love for photography – especially vintage, old-school grainy images. So during lockdown I bought a vintage Canon AE-1 35mm Film Camera and some different films and started shooting whenever I was out and about or at the studio with friends. Strangely during lockdown, parks became the place to be – people were tapping back in with nature, so I’d bring it out whenever I got the chance. I guess I wanted to capture moments and just fell in love with the process. I still shoot today whenever I have spare time or I think there is a moment worth capturing.
What’s your favourite film ever ?
What’s your favourite outfit ?
Nothing beats a good tux, pristine white shirt and a bow tie. Now if that doesn’t scream classy, I don’t know what does.
What do you find cool about America?
We’ll I’ve actually toured around America doing a show called Barbershop Chronicles with the Nation Theatre and we went to so many places so I got a good perspective of the places we went to. From Arizona, Berkeley, Palo Alto and LA, to Boston, New Hampshire, Miami, Washington DC and Seattle. I absolute love that every state is so unique and has its own personality. But the thing I find the most cool about America is the people. They are so hospitable and caring – best hosts in the world.
And finally tell us what’s cool about you?
I was born on the exact same day, Christopher George Latore Wallace (better known by his stage names the Notorious B.I.G or Biggie Smalls) died: March 9th 1997. So some will say I’m a reincarnation of the greatest rapper to ever touch planet Earth.
Pirates is currently in cinemas
Images 2 & 3
Coat – ESAÚ YORI AW 21
Shirt – 0negeneration
Pants – Ben Sherman
Hat – Prada
Image 1 & 5
Knit: Helen Anthony
Rings: Rat Betty
Image 4 & Cover
Shirt / knit: Face Ltd
Suit: Helen Anthony