Did you watch Mary Poppins as a child?
I watched Mary Poppins on repeat as a child, so to be in it is nothing short of an honour. I feel lucky to be able to make something so joyous and enchanting and potentially everlasting.
What’s your favourite scene in the new Mary Poppins film?
My character is called Frye and he is one of two lawyers in the film who work for the bank and are sent to give some bad news to the Banks Family. He’s the nicer of a slightly nasty pair. My favourite scene is later in the film but the details contain spoilers, however my second favourite scene is in the Cover is Not the Book number/song.
Are you a musical person? How did you prepare for the Tina musical?
I haven’t done musicals but like them and I absolutely love ours. Preparation was tough but stimulating. I did the usual line- and song learning but also studied Ike’s walking, talking, moving and singing. I am also playing guitar for the first time, lost 10kg and researched his history and Tina’s …it was intense, but intensely rich.
Ike Turner is a very specific music icon, his marital brutality always staining his contribution to music history in the last century.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Ike was the godfather/a midwife of Rock & Roll. He was a uniquely talented guitarist and composer and yet he has mostly been remembered for the worst bits of his life. To be frank, I think that’s fair. It makes him part of a story of fortitude and talent that inspires millions. Even if I have to perform the ugly bits, I’m happy to be part of that overall inspiration.
How did you claim the character for yourself after Larry Fishburne’s iconic performance?
I’ve looked up to Laurence Fishburne for decades, I really have, but his Ike didn’t influence mine – I actively avoided the What’s Love Got to Do With It film. I sought to build from the ground up even though I thought Big Larry was a wonderful Ike.
How did you feel knowing that Tina Turner herself was in the audience watching you?
Tina said my performance was perfect and that was The Best Possible Compliment. I felt nervous but excited whenever she’s watched us but she is warm and sweet so it’s never been too daunting to meet her afterwards.
How do you stay connected to your African roots?
I have people, culture, music and food in my life that connect me to the continent. I visit Ghana at least once a year too but it’s all quite fluid – I don’t actively think about maintaining those roots, they are just a part of daily living.
Mary Poppins Returns will be released in cinemas on December 21.