Why Yale-educated Shakespearean actor thought he would get fired on his 1st day at work | Inquirer Entertainment
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Why Yale-educated Shakespearean actor thought he would get fired on his 1st day at work

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:40 AM February 14, 2022

Chukwudi Iwuji —PHOTO COURTESY OF HBO GO

Chukwudi Iwuji is known in theater circles for his formidable acting chops. But the 46-year-old Olivier-winning stage luminary disclosed in our recent chat with him that none of his formidable experience was able to help him do well on his first day on the set of HBO Go’s eight-part superhero series “Peacemaker.”

In fact, Chukwudi thought his bosses would fire him right after his first scene!

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The Yale-educated British-Nigerian actor’s body of work is nothing to scoff at: He has spent a big chunk of his career acting in Royal Shakespeare Company productions, so he has been sharpening his thespic skills sinking his teeth into plays like “Henry VI,” “Richard III,” “Othello,” “Antony and Cleopatra” and King Lear.”

So given his body of work, you’d think that playing Clemson Murn, the mysterious leader of Project Butterfly, would be a walk in the park for him.

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‘Completely terrified’

“Not really,” he quipped, laughing. “I was completely terrified. It was like the first day of school for me, as with all the new things in my career. I’ll tell you a quick story. The first day of filming, I was already thinking, ‘Oh, they probably made a mistake.’ But it got worse after that (laughs).

“You know the scene if you’ve seen it. I had to go up a tree and drill into the tree using an electric drill. The thing about me is, if I manage to change a light bulb without a hitch, I feel like I’ve already done something amazing. Yeah, I am so bad with tools!

“The scene took so long because, at one point, I kept drilling it in reverse, instead of forward—and it was a nightmare (laughs)! So, I was pretty sure they were going to fire me.”

“It was a good thing that there was so much camaraderie and enthusiasm on set from the moment I arrived. So, we laughed it off, and the rest of the scene went brilliantly. I quickly relaxed but, I must admit, at some point I said to myself, ‘What am I doing here?’ This is just so different from anything else I’ve done.

Knowing the drill

“But when you have all this warmth and excitement for you to be in the project, the nerves quickly were off. Just the same, that first day was very funny. I think Matt (Miller, one of the show’s executive producers, who was present at the interview) knows what I’m talking about.”

Beside Chukwudi, Matt laughed out loud and said, “It was bone-chillingly cold [that day], and he couldn’t get the drill to work. It was hilarious to see it. As for Chukwudi, yeah, this great Shakespearean actor can’t drill! We should have read his resume a little closer. DIY skills: No power tools (laughs)!”

That first day on the set notwithstanding, it looks like James Gunn was very much impressed by Chukwudi’s performance in “Peacemaker.” Proof? There are many speculations swirling on the world wide web about his buzzed-about participation in Gunn’s upcoming Marvel film, “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3.” INQ

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