Best described as “a love letter to brotherhood, garage, and London,” Reggie Yates’ directorial debut, Pirates, is a feat of comedic genius. Set to transport native Londoner’s into the bittersweet depths of their unforgotten youth, the film stars Reda Elazouar, Jordan Peters, and Elliot Edusah, all of who provide an irreverent portrayal of Britain’s infamous subcultures. But Elazouar stands out as the one to watch.
Emitting an infectious energy over Zoom, the 22-year-old British-Moroccan actor cites his brazen personality as the thing that immediately captivates those in his presence. This was proven, firstly, by his uninhibited jokes that peppered our conversation and secondly, by the actor’s impromptu rendition of his favourite High School Musical track. But, while charisma surely helped catapult him to the big screen, it’s Elazouar’s unwavering dedication to hard work that keeps him there.
Celebrating the release of Pirates, we chatted to Elazouar about working with Reggie Yates, the ‘real’ London, and how this film became an introspective exercise.
Erica Rana Hey Reda, where are you right now?
Reda Elazouar I’m at home, in South London.
ER Did you enjoy growing up in South?
RE I loved growing up in London, man. I think it is the best place to grow up. It has every single culture and everyone is all mixed together.
ER How did you get into acting?
RE I wanted to get into acting after I watched Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I watched that and was like, ‘I wanna do that.’ So, for years, I’d perform stuff like High School Musical in my living room. I went to the Battersea Art’s Centre and RAaW London, which is where I experienced the professional side of acting and where I fell in love with it more. So, at around 17, acting caught me.
ER Let’s get into Pirates! Can you give us a synopsis?
RE It is about three 18-year-old friends based in North London who are a part of the Pirate Radio crew, the Ice Cold Crew. It is the turn of the millennium and they want to go out and party, but before they do that, they need to find tickets [for the club], clothes, and food. Through that, you get to navigate the real London, which is something that I feel we haven’t seen before with these types of characters – ones that think they’re cool, but they’re not. The characters are really close, almost like brothers. So, it is a love letter to brotherhood, garage and London.
ER You are a born and raised Londoner like your character, Kidda. Do you share any similarities with him?
RE I would say that Kidda is a caricature of who I really am. I like to make jokes but his head is in the clouds, and I don’t think I’m like that. It was nice to play a character who is from London because when you are acting, you are usually discovering other people, you are looking outwards – this film made me look inwards.
ER And you worked with Reggie Yates! How was that experience?
RE It was absolutely amazing! He has been in the industry for so long, so he carries this level of professionalism in everything that he does. His directing style was amazing and he was on hand for any questions that we had, we even had a group chat that we still have today! More importantly, it is always nice to work with someone that is an expert on what they have written. He knew the feelings and emotions of the time because he is so rooted in that era, as he was 18 at that time.
ER I want to talk about inspirations as well! Who do you spotlight as your inspirations?
RE It’s hard to find someone that has lived through the same things as you, which is why I hold Reggie in such high regard. I gravitate toward people who are hard-working and are good at what they do. There are a lot of amazing actors, but the ones that most inspire me are the people around me who work hard. In my personal life, my mum and close friends are inspirations. A lot of them aren’t actors but seeing them working hard in their respective fields is a constant reminder to keep striving.
ER Is there anything that you want people to know about you now the movie has come out?
RE That’s a really good question! I would say that I am a bit more intelligent than my character in Pirates because I think when people see it, they will think I am that person. Nah, seriously though, it’s that I am going to keep working. I am planning to do a lot of things with my career, and it may not just be acting or comedy, when you see the movie, you’ll notice that it’s quite comedic. But jokes aside, I’m proud of this film. I’m sure people will enjoy it and find something they can connect with.