British actor Oris Erhuero, popular for his roles in movies such as The Adventure of Sinbad and Sometimes In April, jetted out of Ghana last week after shooting a movie in the country for about six weeks around Accra and Koforidua.
He had an exclusive interview with NEWS-ONE’s Francis Addo and spoke about his experience in Ghana.
Oris left town with a tattoo on his chest by a Ghanaian artist, Anthony Hanson, to keep remembering his experiences in Ghana.
His new movie, The Cursed One, features Haitian-born American actor Jimmy Jean Louis and other Ghanaian actors including Ama K. Abebrese, David Dontoh, Rama Brew, Fred Amugi and a few others.
Below Are Excerpts Of The Interview:
Have you acquired any Ghanaian name yet?
No, I don’t. Not yet. (Laughs) They haven’t given me one yet. But I knew bits and pieces of Ghanaian languages because I grew up with a lot of Ghanaian friends. I know ‘εtisien’ which means how are you? And I also know about some good Ghanaian foods.
Ghanaians have seen you in ‘Sinbad’. Tell us who Oris Erhuero is.
|Francis Addo & Oris Erhuero|
Wow, Oris is a man, a father, a brother, a cousin…I am a man like any other man. I just happen to have a career that I love to do and I enjoy doing it. Yeah, so that’s who Oris is. He is the man next door.
What brought you to Ghana?
This is my first time here. I came here to shoot a film called The Cursed One. I can’t give too much about the story but that is what brought me to town. I was invited on board by a Ghanaian director, one of the finest directors. He will be the next big thing and he is Nana Obiri Yeboah. Apparently, he said he was a great fan of mine when he was younger and when he heard I was in the vicinity where I was based in London, he wanted to meet me to know if I will be interested in doing one of his films. So that’s what brought me here. We just wrapped the shoot two days ago.
What will you say about your experience working with Nana, a Ghanaian director?
That was my first time working with him and the experience was very good and exciting. I had nothing but a very exciting experience. I think he is one of the finest directors I have worked with in a very long time. And it feels good that he is a fellow African, simply because he seems to understand the psychic and the psychology of humans which is something missing from a lot of directors. They don’t know how to play with human psyche. They don’t know how to play with human beings and how to make human beings tell the story they want to tell; and this guy was able to do that.
What was your role?
I played an outsider; someone who comes into the community to do a report. I played the character who comes to investigate… tell a story; and that story led to a million and one of the tragic things that can never go wrong in man’s life in two days. A lot of things happen on many different human levels from the African perspective and how this individual is able to deal with it and handle it. A reporter who goes into a community and wants to tell a story about something else turns into something different.
What made you accept the script?
Because it is based on a documentary and a true story. It was real and it had a lot to do with something I understand as an Africa man. Between ages five and thirteen, I experienced something very similar and this movie brought back memories. I mean it is something that’s really deeply going on in our society. We always blame someone for something, especially always blaming innocent people for something they never did; and it is tragic. It is almost like Shakespeare, you know what I mean; when you accuse someone of something they didn’t do and before you knew it, things got out of hand.
What education or message is this movie going to carry?
We can never judge a book by its cover. We shouldn’t do that. That is the message. It is a problem in Africa and out there. We assume sometimes and spiritually, mentally we can misdiagnose a situation or a problem by accident, which is very easily done every day in the West. But sometimes such misunderstanding can psychologically cause a ripple effect in the community.
Have you had an experience where you were wrongly judged?
Yeah, on very many different levels, I think I can relate to that. I can relate to being misjudged, only for someone to find out that ooh sorry we apologise. I think everyone can relate to some level.
I first saw you in Sinbad but how did your acting start?
Of course, any human being, if you want to accomplish something you have to study it. You have to go to school and I did that. My first major break was The Adventure of Sinbad, which was shot in Cape Town, South Africa. Prior to that, I was doing TV commercials, modelling and studying. When that opportunity came I realised that this is something I was born to do. The character was a very interesting character. Originally I was not supposed to go pass one episode. I was supposed to die in the very first episode on a ship; and I think halfway through filming, the producers saw something and they said wow, you know what this is it …we have something…
How did you get the role?
I auditioned for it. It was my first TV audition and that was it.
You look different now. I saw you in ‘Sometimes In April’ but I didn’t notice you.
That’s me. That’s my life because I am blessed to say that everything I do I never look the same. I am a character actor and a character actor is the kind of actor that everything he does is different. I challenge myself; you will never see me repeat the same thing. I’m very different. Yeah. That’s what it is about. You should be able to differentiate that I never had hair and now I grow hair.
Beyond acting what else do you do?
Yes I produce, direct and write. Even for this new project, I am also an executive producer too as well as the lead actor.
Tell us about your family?
I have a daughter and I am divorced. I am single again. So yeah, I have a thirteen year old daughter. I come from a very big family. I have a lot of nieces and nephews. I just launched my own jewellery and accessory brand called Oris Erhuero Couture worldwide.
What’s your connection with Nigeria?
My mum and dad are from Delta State, Nigeria. I spent the age of five to thirteen years in Nigeria. I schooled there and everything. I mean I grew up there in an era when we had military rule. We had the military in power then. So I have seen so many deep sides of Africa on a deeper level than most people in this day and age. So I am most grateful because I understand, even the history of Ghana is something in my blood.
How did you end up in the UK and USA?
I was born in the UK and was brought to Nigeria to school for awhile and went back to UK before the USA where I went to acting school.
What was Oris’ childhood dream?
Actually I wanted to become a soldier. I wanted to be in the Army and it is a far cry; I am very glad I wasn’t. I wanted to be soldier because I am a very adventurous person. Now when I look back, I don’t think I would have been able to do anything else apart from acting, which supersedes the things in my life on a whole new level to let me do other things too.
What is your belief?
I am a Buddhist. Yeah.
Does it sometimes conflict with your career?
No, because Buddhism is life itself. It is life and death all in one. There are four things I believe in as a Buddhist: you are born, you grow old, you get sick, and you die. Those four things are the religion of everyone, whether we believe it or not. It enhances what I do, makes me a better father, better understanding of human beings and also understanding compassion and the ups and downs that we go through today. It doesn’t make you any special; it just gives you the understanding and the clarity to go through the journey of life. In my form of Buddhism, we chant for happiness for ourselves as well as for other people. I align myself with the ‘Mystic Law’ and that to some people is Jehovah, Allah, God, whatever that incredible powerful entity may be. I have an understanding of it and I respect it. As a Buddhist, it is also my duty to respect other people’s beliefs. I have no place in the world to judge people because of their beliefs. It is about us embracing other people, and if you are happy with what you believe in then I am happy for you. That’s what Buddhism is about; your happiness and my happiness. However you choose to attain that happiness. So it affects me in so many levels in embracing others. But it doesn’t negatively affect the kind of movie roles I pick. It rather challenges me to take the roles. It gives me choice. Life is a choice and it should never affect your belief and your thoughts. Anything that affects your belief, I think it is a problem.
You got a tattoo from Ghana.
Every twelve years of my life, I try to collect a new body tattoo from where I work. My last tattoo was from South Africa. My latest tattoo is done in Ghana by one of the finest tattoo artists in Africa. He is called Anthony Hanson. His father was the first captain of the Black Stars of Ghana. He is one of the finest tattoo artists in the world I feel. He designed a black lion on my chest, which, to me, signifies West Africa. West Africa for me is a lion. The only place in the world that lions exist is Africa lol. So I did the tattoo to remember Ghana.
How many tattoos in all?
I have about six or seven. I got one from South Africa and another from New York. Every tattoo I have means a lot to me. The one I have on my back is written in Japanese and it means courage. Then also I have my birthmark, which is the year of the monkey; My Chinese horoscope. Every tattoo on me means something.
How long have you been in Ghana now?
I spent almost a month and half here. I spent time in Koforidua Mangoase and the last few days in Accra. I have to say we wouldn’t have done this movie without the support of the people of Ghana. They have been so supportive. I feel like I have a family here because I have met police personnel and lawyers who said to me that they used to watch me. I think they know me better than I know myself, and I feel honoured and blessed.
By Francis Addo (Twitter: @fdee50 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)