By Sonya Jenkins (www.sonyasspotlight.com)
With an acting career that has spanned 20 years, actor Bokeem Woodbine has played some of the most colorful characters in television and film. His roles have ranged from the rough and rugged to the naughty and noble, and have given him an edge in Hollywood as a compelling actor who delivers with a punch.
With a repertoire of films under his belt, including STRAPPED, JASON’S LYRIC, GRIDLOCK’D, RAY, THE BUTCHER and several other films and television projects, Bokeem’s latest feature film TOTAL RECALL, takes the Harlem-born actor to a new level – science fiction.
In TOTAL RECALL, Bokeem plays Harry, the friend and brother figure of Quaid (Colin Farrell). Bokeem admits that acting in a science fiction film was on his “bucket list.” Bokeem took some time to chat with me – via phone – about his career. He also shared his tips for aspiring actors. Keep reading for our conversation.
Bokeem: Hi, Sonya. How are you?
Sonya: I’m pretty good. I saw the screening [of TOTAL RECALL] last night and I had no clue about your character, but I felt like I already knew your character. Do you know what I’m saying?
Bokeem: Not really, Sonya. Because I’ve got to tell you, over the last couple of years I’ve also appeared as a cop, a lawyer, a federal agent and things of that nature. But what I do find interesting is that certain people gravitate to certain roles that I play. So, I don’t know. There’s also jazz musicians, doctors and roles of that nature. But it all depends on what people like. So, I’ve got to ask you – ‘Do you like when I play bad boys or when I play a LAPD officer – like on a show like Southland?’
Sonya: Okay, I ’ve got to ask about the movie – TOTAL RECALL. How was it working on the film and how long did it take to film your scenes?
Bokeem: It was a dynamite experience. The whole thing – from the audition to actually shooting my part took about six months. So, for a long time, I wasn’t sure if I had the role and once I had the role, it was a number of months shooting.
Sonya: How was it working with Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel?
Bokeem: As far as working with Colin Farrrell and Jessi, they were both super cool. They are both addicted to crossword puzzles. I don’t know if people know that. Colin is very funny – always prepared. Jessica Biel is the nicest lady. Just a lot of fun to be on set with everybody. We had a good time. And everybody came prepared. It’s definitely worth the price of admission.
Sonya: So, what advice would you give, being that you started out as an extra and stand-in? What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
Bokeem: There are a couple of things really. Don’t be afraid to spend time by yourself. That’s a big one. Because a lot of us come from big families or have strong circles of friendships. you can’t be afraid to be with yourself and work on your instrument. And another thing is, if you don’t have an opportunity to get into a class, it’s okay. There are plenty of books out there that I find very helpful – maybe even more helpful than cinema class in studying some basic techniques and just using your mind to visualize how you would employ these techniques. Find out about open casting calls. Find out about open casting calls – open casting calls. Next, is fitness. Now this is something that it took me years to realize. I’ve always worked out, but there’s a way to work out for a look on camera. You have to do a certain amount of cardio exercises. You have to. That’s one of the most underrated aspects that’s so overlooked. If you’re not fit and the other person is, you can be a better actor and not get the job. Never overlook how important it is to be in shape.
Sonya: Keep doing your thing and I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.
Bokeem: Thank you so much, Sonya.