If correctly pronouncing the name of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was an Olympic event, our own Dan Fienberg would be in Sochi winning medals right this moment.
When I went to the “Pompeii” press day recently, I was met outside the room by a publicist who was speaking on behalf of another publicist who was inside the room, and they all wanted to make it clear that I shouldn’t bother trying to say anything beyond “Adewale” when I walked into the room. “You don’t have to try his last name,” she said.
Hey, if he wants to go the full Madonna, fine by me. I’ve always had a great time interviewing him, and I’ve liked his work as far back as I can remember seeing him. He made such a huge impression when he was on “Oz” that the only real danger for me as a fan is that I would call him “Adebisi” instead of Adewale. One of the things that becomes clear if you spend more than ten minutes in conversation with him is that he is crazy smart, a guy with a knack for running a conversation.
At a press day for “The Thing,” we had some time to just sit and chat while they were re-lighting the interview set, a good twenty minutes or so off-camera, and we talked about his background, a Masters degree in law, and how I’d like to see him cast as the lawyer in something instead of the perpetual client. It’s one of those things where I don’t even think it’s about race as much as it is about a sort of failure of imagination on the part of filmmakers thinking about how to cast him.
My kids were excited to talk to him for a moment about “Thor: The Dark World,” and he was incredibly gracious when talking about the part he played. Personally, I thought it was yet another film where they made less than ideal use of him, burying him in (admittedly well-designed) monster make-up for most of the movie. I’ll say this for “Pompeii”… Paul W.S. Anderson gives Adewale a lot of screen time, and his character plays more than just a bad guy or a tough guy. I’ll have my actual review of the movie up on Friday, but it’s safe to say that I was happy to see Adewale get to play someone who we can actually root for and who has more than one big moment to play.
“Pompeii” is out in theaters on Friday, and you can see “Thor: The Dark World” on Blu-ray and DVD on February 25.