Tomiwa Edun: From Romeo to Alex Hunter!
Chances are that you have looked at the cover and you are wondering why your favourite new player from the FIFA 17 The Journey looks so real and bears the name Tomiwa Edun. Chances are that you have checked the Internet and have realised that Alex Hunter is Tomiwa Edun, a Nigerian actor who has featured in series like Merlin and most recently the movie everyone is talking about, Banana Island Ghost.
Edun also happens to be the second black man to play the role of Romeo in a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Globe Theatre in London, a prestigious theatre associated with William Shakespeare himself. Speaking of the perception of being able to play the role he says, “I think it should not be remarkable that a given role is played by someone of a given race or creed.” He goes on to say, “At the end of the day, we are all human beings and we all know what it means to be in love, to feel betrayed, to feel misunderstood…”
Talking to Edun during his stay in Nigeria from the premiere of Banana Island Ghost, you are infected with his laughter which seems to erupt mid conversation. He speaks of his umbilical connection to Nigeria as he says, “I spend a quarter to a third of the year here, depending on what I’m working on but I don’t think I’ve spent more than a year outside Nigeria and that year that I did, I felt the lack.” He goes on to say, “There’s a vibrancy to life here that is powerful. I think when anybody is here, they really know that they are alive. I feel like being here is living life at a hundred and ten percent and that is exciting.”
Theatre to Film
For most people who venture into this field, they have an attraction to the stage or the screen, for Edun, it was the love of theatre. He recalls some of his earliest memories of theatre being from Lagos at the National Stadium. He says, “I remember these moments of outrage, of seeing someone being duped on stage and wanting to do something about it. I guess I had the impetus to be involved…” it wasn’t until his meeting with a the late influential director in Cambridge by the name of Annie Castledine who he says, “- was the one that first of all suggested that this could be a career and secondly was instrumental in pushing me along the path…And like they say, I never looked back.”
Being a member of the theatre and film industry in as much as they are under one industry, Edun describes the feeling of being on the stage and on screen. “Every night, the performances are essentially different because the composition of the people involved in the conversation is different and there is something wonderful about being able to start at the beginning of a story and take it to the end with no interruptions.” Talking about film he says, “Onscreen, I feel it is more like catching these moments of truth of human experience and the director assembles all these moments that we’ve caught over the process of the course of the film to tell a story that hopefully connects with cinema audiences emotionally.” In an ideal world according to him, he would love to do both.
Acting in Nollywood
Edun recently featured in Banana Island Ghost, a movie which featured Chigul as the lead actress and Edun as her boyfriend. Considering this is his first movie in Nigeria, he admits that, “I have been trying to do that for years. We have taken things to various stages and for whatever reason, they haven’t quite worked out.” Finally working here due to the right conditions and approach from Biola Alabi and BB Sasore, he was attracted to the script because according to him, “It was a lot of fun! The sort of abundant joyfulness of it just jumped off the page.” Laughing as he reminisces about being on set he adds, “We had a great team, it was a real privilege. The crew, the co-stars. There were a lot of laughs on set and hopefully there will be even more for the audience.”
Describing the movie as a global industry, Edun goes on to say that “We have so many stories that need to be told and I will love to do more work here (Nigeria)”. When asked about the experience shooting in Nigeria, his answer is a little bit shocking but refreshing as he says, “I think being on set is pretty much standard everywhere. You are always short of time, inevitably. No matter how well you can, you are always chasing the clock.” Laughing, he adds, “We have fun issues like losing light, all those challenges you have to deal with here that perhaps you don’t have to deal with elsewhere.”
Becoming Alex Hunter
If careers were left to the fate of a Nigerian parent, at least one child would become a professional football player, preferably playing with the big clubs and sending money back home. Well, Edun is eating his cake and having it in the role of Alex Hunter in the FIFA 17 – The Journey which allows players embark on professional careers as Hunter. Edun describes it as a “surreal experience” he goes on to say, “Basically it has given me the opportunity to live out a boyhood fantasy. I mean who amongst us would not be a professional footballer of the highest level if we could do it and I have sort of gotten to live that dream which is amazing.” Talking on his journey while playing this role he says, “We shot in this massive warehouse in Vancouver in winter and then seven, eight months later the material that started off as us dressed in these weird motion capture suits, interacting with very few real sets, props and scenery turns out into this beautifully polished pseudo-movie.”
Speaking of the effect of this unique introduction to entertainment, he says, “I will say that the greatest validation of our work was watching my friends or brothers play this thing that I have been working on for all this time and seeing them pulled in that they are now reacting emotively and spontaneously.” Playing Alex Hunter has been instrumental in his career as he says, “This FIFA thing has opened up doors that ten years ago we wouldn’t have known would be there.” Regardless, he admits to being blessed, saying,
“I am proud of the variety of material that I have been able to do. It’s great to have been able to work in all these different markets.”