When the news broke of Reggie Yates’ directorial debut, a generation raised on TV shows that spotlighted his witty presenting skills and insightful approach to documentary making instantly fell into an anticipatory frenzy as they awaited the plot details and cast announcements sure to be as history-making as Reggie’s career change itself. And, thanks to Elliot Edusah, and the film’s fellow star’s Reda Elazouar and Jordan Peters, it became clear that the hype surrounding the upcoming movie Pirates was most definitely due.
Stepping into the shoes of the group’s father figure and manager, Cappo, Elliot looked to provide big laughs and lend his masterful acting skills to a film that portrays a relatable and beautifully diverse look into 1999s London, one shown through the eyes of three 18-year-olds-turned-radio crew members who embark on a journey filled with partying, loud outfits and garage music. Promising to have you embroiled in raucous fits of laughter, as well as reminiscing on the joys and pitfalls of entering into adulthood, prepare to be rendered besotted by the Small Axe star and his forever-hilarious portrayal of one-third of the London’s most lovable trio.
When speaking on his role in the movie, Elliot explained, “Cappo is the best friend everyone needs. He is the manager of the I.C.C (Ice Cold Crew) and the man with the plan. He’s loyal and will do anything for his friends, and I can relate to that. I approached Cappo without any biases or judgement, and instead stepped into his shoes and got to know him. I also wanted to show his vulnerability and awkwardness in a way that I could relate to whilst still portraying the character’s truths and authentically letting the audience into his thoughts and feelings. Cappo also came back from University a different man, with different plans and a whole new perspective on life. He’s ambitious and yearns for more in life, he doesn’t want to let his environment define who he is, and he is adamant for some sort of change in his life.”
Ahead of the release of Pirates, the actor on the rise got candid with Wonderland about his time on set, which included a birthday to remember, and the moments that led him to pursue a career in acting. Head below to enjoy our interview with Elliot Edusah…
Hey Elliot! How are you? How has this past year been for you?
I’m fine! I’m looking forward to the festive season. Looking at the big picture, the last year has been really exciting. Lockdown was tough, especially being away from family during the Christmas and New Year period, but this year is looking much more promising as we’re slightly closer to normality. But during that time, I built so many relationships and got to know myself much better, which I’m grateful for. Luckily, I was blessed and had the pleasure of working with some very talented people whose work has inspired me for years, whilst also travelling and working in different parts of the world, which I have never been to before.
Loads of people picked up unusual skills this past year, especially during lockdown. Did you pick up anything new?
Yeah, I’ve always had a love for photography – especially vintage, old-school grainy images. So, 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.
How did you first get into acting, what sparked your interest?
I’ve always had a love for acting since I was young. But, my love really formed when I was fourteen years old and I attended a weekly improvisation class called Wingin It which is run by Stratford Theatre Royal East. It was a hub for young creatives in and around East London, and it was a safe space for us to create in a judgement-free, constructive environment. I loved going there and doing shows on the main stage at Stratford Theatre Royal during the school summer holidays. My most fond memory was doing a promenade piece set around the whole theatre; there were shows in every nook and cranny of the building, from spoken word and poetry to monologues. It was called Heartfelt and was directed by Rikki Beadle Blair. I think after doing that performance, I was hungry for more and wanted to deepen my knowledge of the craft.
And then you went on to star in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series, what was this experience like?
Working with Steve McQueen has been a dream of mine for years. I loved his films, artistry, and specific style and how it’s varied and transformed over the years. From Shame and Hunger to 12 Years A Slave, he always extracts the rawness from every performance and the authenticity in the moment. In drama school, when they would ask me who my favourite director was and who I would love to work with, his name was always at the top of my list. So, working with him was a blessing. Every day working with Steve was transformational; gems were getting dropped left, right and centre and I couldn’t help but take them in and refine my process with all the knowledge I had received. He’s a pure artist, and his specificity and detail is next to none. I’ve always believed the script is a music score, the actors are the orchestra, and the director is the conductor, and Steve isn’t far off from Beethoven.
Now you’re in Reggie Yates’ Pirates, how did you get involved in this project?
I received the audition from my agent about Shaheen Baig and her team casting a Reggie Yates project called Pirates about the three boys from London travelling around London on New Year’s Eve 1999. Once I heard the words garage and Reggie Yates, I was sold. I grew up watching Reggie on TV as a kid, from him being a child actor in Desmond’s to documentaries and travelling the face of the earth, I’ve always been tapped in, so to meet, work and collaborate with him was a fantastic experience. We have a great relationship, and I see him as more of an older brother or mentor figure in my life, I have learnt a lot from him both on and off set. Originally, I had auditioned for the part of Kidda, but after my first audition, Reggie thought I was more fit for the role of Cappo. So, the next time I met Reggie, I returned as Cappo. I had an amazing chemistry read alongside Jordan Peter, who plays Two Tonne, and Reda Elazouar, who plays Kidda, and I think the chemistry between us three was undeniable. We improvised, laughed, took risks and were able to be vulnerable, and I think that same chemistry we showed in that audition room, grew and blossomed and really shines throughout the whole film.