‘Lost’ star goes from ‘Pompeii’ to ‘Annie’ | Inquirer Entertainment
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‘Lost’ star goes from ‘Pompeii’ to ‘Annie’

By: - Columnist
/ 10:43 PM February 07, 2014

AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE. Teams up with Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz and Quvenzhane Wallis in big-screen remake of “Annie.” photo by RUBEN V. NEPALES

LOS ANGELES—Mr. Eko of “Lost” is going from fierce gladiator Atticus in “Pompeii” to singing, dancing Nash in “Annie.” Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, noted for his big, muscular frame, laughed as he told us that, no, he never imagined that he’d belt out Annie’s anthem, “Tomorrow,” in a movie.

“Going in, I didn’t even know that I was going to sing, because it wasn’t scripted,” said the London native (born to Nigerian parents) in a recent talk. Adewale stars with Quvenzhane Wallis (in the title role), Jamie Foxx (Benjamin Stacks, aka Daddy Warbucks) and Cameron Diaz (Miss Harrigan) in the film update of the beloved musical. “But, Will (Gluck, the director) said, ‘You cannot come into this movie without singing, so get in there and sing and dance!’—and that’s what we did. It was a lot of fun! I only sing the finale ‘Tomorrow’ (with the rest of the cast) and do the big scene with everybody dancing.”


Laughing, the man who often plays hulking, menacing characters (including Simon Adebisi in HBO’s “Oz”), but is friendly and easygoing in person, said, “As we say in this business, where there’s cheese, you have got to eat it—and we ate it, and it was fun!


“Actually, music is my first love,” he clarified. “I have my own music studio. I play the trumpet, and I sing in my spare time. ‘Annie’ is a way to show the industry and the audience another side of my repertoire and personality.”

“My first draw to the movie was Quvenzhane,” he said of the young actress who was only 5 years old when she tried out for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (she earned an Oscar nod). “I had seen her in ‘Beasts…,’ and I thought she was phenomenal. Also, Annie is a national icon. I’m drawn to the music. And to be in a cast with Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz, it was a no-brainer for me.

He added about Quvenzhane, “She’s an absolutely stellar talent. To me, she’s the modern-day Shirley Temple. She sings great, she’s a natural. She and Jamie together—I think you’re really going to like this one. And Jay-Z was doing the music, ‘Hard Knock Life.’ You can’t go wrong with that, can you?”

In the meantime, moviegoers will see Adewale in Paul W. S. Anderson’s disaster epic, “Pompeii,” which also stars Kit Harington. We congratulated him on his career, which has taken off since we first met him in Hawaii for “Lost.”

“The great thing about doing ‘Lost’ is that it made me a household name. It gave me the opportunity to do interesting roles in the movies—from blockbusters like ‘GI Joe (The Rise of Cobra)’ and ‘The Thing,’ to working with Robert De Niro in ‘Killer Elite’ and Sly Stallone in ‘Bullet to the Head.’”

He explained why he bowed out of the hit series: “It was really the pursuit of a film career, whether it’s behind the camera, to shoot ‘Farming,’ or to be in front of the camera to pursue roles that change every three months. To be on a network show, and still being young in my career, it just didn’t seem like the right creative move.”


As for “Farming,” it’s his dream project—the title is a term for a common practice in England in the ’60s and ’70s for immigrant parents, including Nigerians, to hand out their children for informal fostering as the parents tried to achieve financial stability. The story is semiautobiographical, since Adewale was a product of farming.

“‘Farming’ is dear to me,” he stressed. “It’s one that I am really trying to get made. It’s been a real ambition of mine to get behind the camera and film this personal project. It’s been difficult to raise money for it. I’m at the point of just going to do crowdfunding, because I have seen how effective it’s been. And you can have more creative power.”

Adewale will be back on TV via the drama pilot, “Odyssey,” described as in the vein of Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic,” which will also star Anna Friel, Daniella Pineda and Nate Mooney.

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E-mail [email protected]. Follow him at https://twitter.com/nepalesruben.

TAGS: Annie, Farming, lost

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