Nollywood actor, Baaj Adebule talks about his experience filming with Cheta Chukwu on his first movie as a director. His chats with MRH about the challenges he faced, having to act comedy for the first time and being paired with comedian Ebiye.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROLE IN PAYDAY?
I played a character of Paul in PAYDAY. He is a young Ambitious clever inventor, he came from a poor background, he struggled through university and now he has this wonderful invention and he is hoping he would get picked by a company and start living a good life.
HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH A FIRST TIME DIRECTOR?
Hmmmm…It was really amazing, there was a lot of first time. That was my first time working with him, first time working with the cast and crew, and also my first time doing a comedy film. Before then I was always being cast in comedy films, deep films that are really very serious. When I got called that there is this young Director who wants to make his first feature comedy film and he wants me to play the lead character, he sent me the script and it was so amazing. He wanted to do comedy, but he still wanted it to come with real emotions. Since I was the lead actor and I haven’t done a comedy film before, I did a lot of research, watched a lot of documentary on comedy just to get a good idea of how to do it. I did a lot of rehearsals because if you are playing a lead, if you don’t do well, the film doesn’t do well and I didn’t want that on my resume. (Laughs)
WITH THE LITTLE TIME ON SET WITH THE DIRECTOR, WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT CHET CHUKWU?
He is brilliant, what I like about him is that he already had a clear picture of what the movie would look like. Even before he started filming he was very clear about what he wanted it to look, I could literally see the film through his eyes. Usually, when you are doing a comedy, people have this notion that when you are doing comedy, you use comedians but he decided to cast an actor and a comedian. He wanted the two of them to do it together and that worked perfectly, that is just kudos to him and brilliant because we ended up rubbing off each other. There’s a lot of scenes that I have to watch Ebiye to learn from. I was learning a lot from him and vice versa and it ended up commulating to a very good performance.
What Were Your Challenges While Shooting the Film.
The filming was challenging because a lot of stuff was just wrong and that’s Nigeria. We ended up filming for a longer amount of time, we had to shoot overnight sometimes but I think the greatest challenge was my fault because I was playing a character that is very serious. I’m not a person that takes myself very seriously; I laugh a lot plus the dimples. I could just start laughing at a lot of stuff there especially when Bisola and Ebiye pull something out of the hat, I’d just fall out of character and start laughing. So that part was really hard but after a while, I stopped screwing up scenes.
What Was it Like Having to Speak Pidgin in The Movie
(Laughs) the original script is in English, so I initially was rehearsing in English but when we got to the reading, Ebiye suggested he wants to do a lot in pidgin and the directed insisted in English. Then I suggested it’d do me a lot of good if he changes some stuff to pidgin. A lot of rehearsals, coming up with English just didn’t feel organic especially like scenes where you’re on the verge of losing your mind, English is not enough.
So he agreed that we infuse pidgin where necessary; that we should do us basically and that made it very organic and real. So when something terrible is happening, even if it’s in English, I just find myself speaking pidgin.
What Endeared You to The Project After Reading The Script?
Apart from the fact it’s by a young director and it’s his first feature film, I held on to the script because it’s brilliant. So that’s enough for you to have that leap of faith. The character also, because it’s very relatable. We’ve all had the door slammed at us or made mistakes. Every living soul has been through these things and that’s the character I’m playing. I could really relate him with, he’s really clever but he just makes some mistakes which everyone does. That part drew me and made me decide to play him.
How Would You Describe Your Experience With This Director and Others You’ve Worked With?
I think the cool part of working with a new director is that he’s eager to learn. When you met someone, you’re always going to learn from that person. So that part was really cool and the fact that it was my first time doing such film (comedy). No matter hustle, practice or homework I do, I’d still have to come with my hotter and pen to learn and he was open to that. He was open to sharing ideas, having conversations and going back and forth on how to do things. The part of sourcing ideas or opinion about things, it helps you feel you’re part of the film and not just an actor. Before Payday, I wouldn’t beat my chest that I can do comedy. I got to learn new skills and become a better actor.
What Do You Have To Say To The Crew
To the producers, Cheta and Mannie Thank you for calling me despite the long list of actors you could have called. Thank you for making that decision and the film. I’m grateful to be a part of it.