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Eric Nwadinobi is a London-based Nigerian actor who’s steadily rising in fame and recognition in Nollywood. He has played in blockbusters such as Annabel and King of the Jungle. The Underworld is his latest movie released at the end of last year which is set to be the talk of 2006. He shares his views on his work, Nollywood, the fans, the ban and m...
Eric Nwadinobi is a London-based Nigerian actor who’s steadily rising in fame and recognition in Nollywood. He has played in blockbusters such as Annabel and King of the Jungle. The Underworld is his latest movie released at the end of last year which is set to be the talk of 2006. He shares his views on his work, Nollywood, the fans, the ban and much more.
Introduce yourself in you own words.
My name is Eric Nwadinobi, I’m a Nigerian based in London and I’m in my thirties.
What’s your family situation?
As a matter of fact, I got engaged yesterday.
Congratulations. When is the wedding scheduled?
The wedding date will be announced later this year.
You had this amazing chemistry onscreen with Dakore Egbuson in “Annabel”. Who’s your dream partner onscreen?
Dakore Egbuson is my favourite partner. We know each other well for we work together at Ben TV in London.
In “Annabel”, we played a pair of siblings and we have such a chemistry together that we pretty much improvised most of our lines in the scenes we played in together. The dialogues just flowed.
And in a way, the improvisation improved the script, because it was natural. And that’s the best thing about acting, when you can just follow the flow and improvise.
Who’s your dream producer/director?
Mac Collins “Mr China” Chidebe, the producer of “The Underworld”. I love his flexibility and aptitude to adapt to different approaches to the job.
A director is the boss on the set and most wouldn’t give anybody a chance to interfere with their work. Not him. He listens to advice and gives into requests from actors to bring points of correction or to change things to do them differently than was planned. I really respect him for that.
A year-long ban has just ended for some of the most prominent actors. What’s your opinion on that?
It actually was a blessing in disguise for us who are still coming up in Nollywood. Without the ban people like me, Dakore Egbuson, Stephanie Okereke or Ini Edo wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do what we did in the past year.
It was always about those famous actors in every major production, so we took the chance to show what we can do and we got work thanks to the ban.
Can a professional stand in the way of another professional and prevent them from working for a full year. Is that acceptable?
Nigeria is a very different place from the Western world. When you have a contract with someone to render a service, you get paid what was agreed and that’s it.
In Nigeria you can try to stretch the terms of your contract and start making demands that were not agreed upon in the first place.
The marketers figured that if an A-list actor should be difficult about financial terms while an upcoming one can perform the same job for much less, why bother? That’s the opportunity the ban represented for us. It is their egos and their greed that got top actors banned.
You’re based in London. Is that an advantage or a stumbling block?
It’s definitely a shortcoming. I have an excellent working relationship with Emmalex Associates and they know where to find me when they have work for me.
Other production companies would never dream of offering me work because I am based in London and that intimidates them. They might think that they have nothing to offer me or that they would offer me something below standards just because I am based abroad, which is not the case at all.
Is being an actor in Nollywood enough to sustain a living?
You must have a day job to fill in the times when you’re not working. There are in Nollywood people who live well on their acting job alone, they had to turn to singing when they got banned.
Tell us about Resend Productions.
It is a production company that I run in London, we make programmes for Ben TV.
What do you have lined up for 2006?
First of all, I am getting married. Then I am taking off to Nigeria in over two months time to do some production work.
Tell us about “Annabel”.
It was an Emmalex Associates production. I never actually read the script apart from my own lines as C. J. I couldn’t believe it when Ugo Emmanuel announced that I was going to be part of a production with Dakore Egbuson, Emeka Ike and Patience Ozokwor among other people. I was really excited about it because these are people that I admire and have respect for.
Your character C. J. was a devious person. How was it to play such a part?
It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t easy at all. I had to take a week off, I locked myself up in my hotel room and did nothing but watch movies with such characters in order to set my mind in the right frame for my part. In order to be believable in that part, I had to think like a devious character.
The opening scene at the airport when the siblings arrive from London had to be shot 7 times over because I just couldn’t get under the skin of such a character. It went much better afterwards.
Tell us about Nkiru Sylvanus, CJ’s love interest in “Annabel”.
She’s a nice girl and a good actress.There was that scene in which Patience Ozokwor, who played my mother, died and Nkiru had to cry. She really did cry her eyes out to the point that I got concerned. I went to her after that scene to ask if she was fine.
And those eyes? Are they as killing in reality as they are onscreen?
How long did it take to shoot “Annabel”?
The scenes I was involved in took a week to shoot.
What is your best work?
The Underworld. I just loved the storyline. A simple guy from London goes to Nigeria and help crush a powerful organization of 419 crooks.
Kanayo O. Kanayo was involved in the project and he’s the finest professional around. I learned so much by working with him. It was a great lesson and experience.
What’s your worst work?
“Tight Corners”. I kept arguing with the director who changed the whole story of my character. I was supposed to be a Personal Assistant to somebody, but he changed it to my being a bodyguard. I couldn’t agree with that. I had fun doing it anyway, but it surely isn’t my best work to date.
Nollywood seen from abroad. What are your views on that?
There has increasingly been less voodoo and mothers-in-law from hell. The industry has evolved a lot and you can see it in the products of these past years. It is a positive change.
Having said that, I also want to point out the overwhelming number of movies that are being produced every year. Some projects are wrapped up so quickly that they don’t contain an ounce of quality in them. I sometimes receive scripts that don’t make sense at all.
How is your family coping with your fame?
It depends. My younger brother based in Nigeria looks strikingly like me and he gets attention from people who mistake him for me. He copes with it very well.
Here in London, it’s more quiet. I was brought up in a humble background so we take things easily and do not let things get out of hand.
Sometimes people who used to know me when I was growing up are surprised to see how I have turned up, but it doesn’t go any further than that.
Can you make friends in Nollywood?
You can not befriend the people that are chasing after the same thing you do to make a living. Maybe the older ones.
Most of the people you come across in Nollywood are either people from whom you get work or people who want something from you. Everyone is always lovely on a shooting set, but that’s all there is to it. It’s just work.
You are extremely popular on the ladies’ front.
It depends. In the UK, girls are shy and withdrawn. Even when they recognise me, they act with restraint and reserve. We socialise at parties.
In Nigeria, it is the complete opposite. Nigerian girls are bold and very direct. They will say in your face what they want from you and that they intend to get it too. They don’t care who you’re with or who their attitude shocks, it is sometimes hard to cope with that.
Tell us about “The Cartel”
The shooting was in London and I played a womanizer. On the day the director announced that I was going to play a kissing scene with Lilian Bach, I got very nervous.
I cleaned my mouth, used mouthwash, chewing gums and whatever else that could help, because I wanted to be ready and make it look real.
As a matter of fact Lilian Bach was looking forward to that scene quite as much as I was, so when the time came, it went smoothly. She’s a great kisser! In that scene we are really kissing!
How do you give back to your community?
I support two charities that will be set up in Nigeria later this year. They are meant to give financial means to support orphaned children with money, food, clothes, and so on.
That’s very noble of you.
When you go to Nigeria, you sometimes encounter situations that shock you and you can’t just sit there and do nothing. That’s why we are setting up that project.
A closing word to your fans.
Thank you all for watching my movies and buying them. Also, please fight piracy because we are losing out on them.
As for the female fans, as you know, I am getting married soon, but we can still greet each other or occasionally have a drink. All in good faith and with good intentions.
I thank you very much for taking time to have this conversation.
It was my pleasure.
Filmography: Annabel, Underworld, The Cartel, Tight Corners, King Of The Jungle