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Hanks Anuku… Nollywood bad boy is hale and hearty

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The news of his rumoured death went viral a few minutes after a website had reported that the busy six-foot tall actor Hanks Anuku had passed on. The initial post, which had a bold ‘RIP’ inscribed on Anuku’s picture, had recorded nearly two thousand shares, five thousand likes and a thousand comments in few hours, but eventually turned out a fake news.

Unsuspecting fans besieged various social media handles to pay tribute to the actor, who some of them described as Nigerians answer to the American acting top gun Arnold Schwarzenegger. But some of Anuku’s close colleague in the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) would not be in a hurry to comment.

Former AGN President Ejike Asiegbu asked for some time to confirm the news. “Give me some time to confirm. I want to call him or reach someone close to Hanks that will know,” he replied in his usual baritone.

A few minutes later, Asiegbu who is popular as Rabbi, reverted thus: ‘Ignore the news; don’t mind the vagabonds. Hanks Anuku is alive.”

A further confirmation came minutes later through a widely circulated two minutes video with the hunky actor himself assuring his fans and colleagues that he is alive and well.

Decked in his usual bowler hat and in a signature baritone that is unique to him, Anuku thundered: “I am alive, don’t listen to them. Those poisonous vipers are not the children of God. God is in charge of my life, not them. I’m not dead. Who cares? But the end of the wicked shall be sudden; this is what God told me. And it shall be sudden without knowledge.”

He continued: “They wish themselves evil and indeed they will be clothed with evil. I have love in me. Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world. My God is love. I love you all, don’t mind them.”

Like the post on his rumoured death, this rebuttal went viral minutes after Anuku authorised it. So far, it has recorded over five million views on YouTube and over five thousand shares across social media platforms. Hank Anuku is that popular.

Born and raised in Ibadan, Oyo State, Hanks, who is originally from Asaba in Delta State, joined the movie industry in 1993, shortly after he returned from the United States where he had a brief stint as an actor. But it was not until 1994 that the tall and fair-skinned actor made his debut in the movie by Fidelis Duker titled Skeleton. He rode on the back of the success of Skeleton to feature in other movie productions including Wild Romance, Akidi, Dear Sister and Django, a movie that earned him the ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’ sobriquet.

But it was in 2003 that Hanks got his big break. This was when he featured in Teco Benson’s three part political thriller The Senator. The movie earned him wide acclaim and a couple of industry awards. The actor, who at a time relocated to Ghana and Zambia to practice his art, has so far featured in over a hundred movies and as he quipped, “and still counting.”

Movies that have benefited from his deft portrayal of roles assigned to him include King of the Jungle, Ogidan, Blood Diamonds, Broad Daylight, Bitter Honey, The Captor, Men on Hard Way, Fools on the Run, Desperate Ambition, My Love, Wanted Alive, Merciful Heart, Virgin’s Heart and the three-part movie Rambo.

A polyglot, who speaks Igbo, Yoruba, and three European languages (Italian, German and French) fluently, Anuku star of hit films such as Big Bros, Home Apart and Formidable Force, which earned him the Best Actor of the year crest at the 2004 edition of the National Film Festival, would not say which movie tasked him more out of the dozens in his couch.

He explained that each of them have come with their own challenges. But the actor, who is a bike and car freak, said his effort in the political thriller The Senator, a movie that was reputed to have sold in excess of five hundred thousand copies, holds fond memories for him. He also agrees that the movie contributed in turning him into an instant hit and a household name.

“The Senator was a hit,” he said, adding, “it was well received and it made a whole lot of people to identify with my talent. It was actually after that, that I started getting more of those roles I did after Formidable Force, but it was not as much as after I took part in The Senator. I had fun and gained so much on the set of that movie. It was really nice working with people like Igwe Laz Ekwueme, the director Teco Benson and the entire cast. No, The Senator was one memorable experience,” he noted.

Famous for playing gangster roles, Anuku loves to travel when he is off set; he gets bored when he has to stay in a particular location for too long. Although he evaded any question on his family and personal life, Hanks described himself in response to a question on his hobbies as adventurous.

“It’s boring when you stay in a place for too long. As someone, who loves adventures, I take time out to travel and just relax. Even when because of work I have to be around for a long time, I just drive around. The demand on us is much, which is why I normally will travel just so as to relax or unwind so as not to tire out.”

Anuku’s greatest acting ambition is to continue to remain relevant in the scheme of things. He looks forward too to playing a long game in the movie.

“No one wants to be involved in something and drop by the way side. The target will be to get to the top and to remain relevant. That’s my ambition and it is for God to okay it and I know He will because He loves me.”


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