When it comes to a rapid rise through the acting ranks, no one has seen their career explode quite like Charles Babalola. Having been shot towards the peak of the industry thanks to his role in The Legend of Tarzan, one that he secured fresh out of drama school, the actor proved that he was destined to succeed. And, with a starring role alongside legendary actor Christopher Walken in BBC’s The Outlaws currently standing as Charles’ latest achievement, this fact only becomes more clear.
When speaking on how he landed his latest role, the actor claimed, “I initially auditioned for the role, and I then met with the writer/director, Stephen Merchant, and the producer, Nickie Sault. We spoke about the role and then I was offered it a few days later. Filming the series hasn’t been the smoothest ride, like most productions over the last year. We started filming for a few weeks before the first lockdown and then resumed in December 2020. So it has felt like a never-ending job. Irrespective of all the stops and starts though, it has been a really jokes job to be part of. The cast is hilarious, shooting in Bristol was lovely and the directors, Stephen & John, made it a really collaborative process for me. There are things I learnt on this job that I’ll take with me throughout the rest of my career.”
Ahead of the release of The Outlaws, the actor sat down with Wonderland to discuss his post-drama school success and his upcoming role in Borderlands. Head below to enjoy our interview with Charles Babalola.
Hey Charles! How are you?
I’m really good, thanks. Chilling.
How has this past year been for you?
There have been a lot of learning curves and a lot of growth. I’ve spent most of the year working, which has been a real blessing. I got The Outlaws right before the first lockdown and I ended up filming two seasons for pretty much the whole of 2021. I can get quite restless when I’m not filming, so to have a focus for that long was nice.
Loads of people tried out new skills in lockdown last year, did you pick up anything new?
It was definitely the time to try those skills you’d been curious about your whole life. My one was to make a podcast. I always had a really cool idea to make a podcast with fellow actors based on music. It was a passion project for me. So I used those months of being locked up to fully develop the concept and record around six or seven episodes. I really enjoyed the challenge of hosting. It was a brand new skill to me and I was trying to master it while I had some time. I think we’ve got some really cool content, but I haven’t released it to the world yet which is annoying because I put a lot of work into it. However, it just didn’t feel right at the time. I still think it needs more fine-tuning. What’s interesting now is that when I listen to them back, you can really feel where we were at in the world with this unknown virus at the time. Also, how the world was changing before our eyes.
How did you first get into acting, what sparked the interest?
I had a really encouraging drama teacher at school who was passionate about nurturing angry inner-city kids. She made her classes an escape from the BS of everyday life. I always remember that as my first memory of taking a liking to acting.
And from that, you went on to star in The Legend of Tarzan which is huge! What was this experience like?
Fresh from the box, it was wild! So, I got that role in my last week of drama school which I was buzzing about. The director, David Yates, invited me on set to meet with him and informally offered me the role there and then. That whole week was really surreal. I think one of my biggest takeaways from it was that I was on stage doing my final drama school show one minute, and then the next I was in a makeup trailer listening to Samuel L Jackson sharing stories with me about how many different ways he’s been killed in movies. It was very surreal! My graduation also fell on my first big shooting day, which was bittersweet as I couldn’t go. I definitely felt like I got chucked in at the deep end, but it was the best environment for me to learn my craft in, with the help of some of the most experienced professionals in the film industry.
You’ve been in some huge films, what is it like starring in these roles at a young age, do you feel any pressure?
The more you practice something, the easier it gets. I like pressure. Pressure is a good way for me to feel my way into whatever I’m trying to do. I always feel that the director and producers have cast me because they trust me to do the job. This helps alleviate any doubts I may have going into it and gives me confidence that I’m doing something right.