“If you cut me, I bleed London,” says Ed Skrein (London, 1983), devouring a skewer of Spanish omelette, as if his thick Camden accent is not enough to recognize a link on a molecular scale with the place where he was born. I will move to Hollywood “, he emphasizes.” No. My home, my friends and my family are in London. I have deep ties with my city and I am not going to move from there, “he concludes. It sounds resounding.
“At 17 I got into trouble and they stabbed me in the back. The doctor said that if I had arrived at the hospital 15 minutes later I would have died”
You suppose this is a conversation you’ve had before with agents, publicists, and advisers, because this guy in his eighties, athlete’s body, face sculpted with a chisel, eyes so bright you don’t know if they’re blue or green, and teeth perfectly imperfect is about caramel in commercial terms. In 36 years he has been a gang member, painter, swimming teacher, rapper, actor specializing in villainous roles that you would sleep with and now he has taken that detour that leads to Hollywood’s Next Sexual Myth. Everything around him seems to be conspiring for it.
There is that runrún that places him among the finalists to be the new James Bond and, above all, his starring role in Midway, Roland Emmerich’s blockbuster about the mythical WWII air-naval battle premiered in Spain this Friday and debuted at the top box office in the US In the feature film, Skrein plays a real character. A US Navy pilot who managed to hit two Japanese aircraft carriers on the same day. “He is a renegade, a guy who is not afraid of death,” says the actor, whose name and face stand out on the posters of a choral film. He is not the best known, he shares a cast with Nick Jonas, Woody Harrelson or Dennis Quaid, but everything seems designed to tell the viewer: “Yes, okay, but look at this man.” It would seem that the objective is to take him to stardom.
Not bad for someone whose grandmother didn’t even recognize yesterday. Specifically until 2016, when it was Ajax, the bad guy Deadpool, Marvel movie that became one of the biggest hits in superhero cinema. “I grew up reading Deadpool and that was a dream come true. When they gave me the role, I couldn’t believe it. Me, of everyone who had auditioned? They were crazy? Tim Miller, the director, is clear on things and is not impressed by famous names. I think the movie worked very well because the filming was a lot of fun. It was a great boost to my career. Now Tim and I are good friends. I just got off the phone with him to meet in London when he goes to promote Terminator”.
“I started acting unpretentious and egoless. I had already worked for minimum wage and had already been arurinado”
The criticisms of Midway they have been good, although not so much those of Skrein’s interpretation. That an Englishman played a New Jersey war hero did not convince the critics. “For me it was not a problem. I really liked doing Midway, because my two grandparents participated in the Second World War, one in the land army and the other in the air force ”. Was your grandfather an RAF pilot? “No, I fixed the fighters, but it takes all kinds of jobs to win a war.”
Although in these weeks his future is at stake with the European premiere of the feature film Emmerich, the actor seems anything but worried. He is the protagonist of the day. Visit Madrid as the face of Bad Boy, the male version of Good Girl, the latest fragrance with the Carolina Herrera signature turned into a global success. In advertising, he plays a dangerous handsome man, a role that he also embroiders before the photographer.
“I am a creative person. I have worked in a lot of formats. I had other advertising-related assignments in the past, but I was not comfortable. And now yes. Advertising is a type of creativity that I find fascinating. And I’m having a blast too, man, ”he laughs. It is understood. About thirty people crowd the two rooms of the study. Photographers, stylists, makeup artists, video makers, cooks preparing the catering, Carolina Herrera employees and some characters who don’t really know who the hell they are. The usual in a campaign like this. Puig, the Spanish company that owns Carolina Herrera, is an expert in turning not only its perfumes, but also the faces that embody them, into successes. From here, Skrein will go to The anthill, and from there to a party in his honor. One of those nights in Madrid where being invited or not makes the difference between being someone or a mindundi.
“I have played many antagonists. Some with qualities that make them redeemable and others without salvation.”
But the atmosphere is relaxed, almost festive, especially since Skrein is too. He has come from London accompanied by a friend. Neither managers no bodyguards or entourage to protect you from awkward questions. He has not asked for the interview questionnaire and he has not vetoed topics either. He has no problem even talking about what happened with his participation in Game of Thrones. For three chapters it was Daario Naharis, the sensual and long-haired mercenary who seduced Khaleesi by putting on that cuddly but tender face that is the brand of the house. Later, that role was awarded to another actor, Michiel Huisman.
“Everybody adores JGame of Thrones But it meant nothing to me personally or creatively. I have no problem quitting a job. I don’t like feeling handcuffed to anything. I started acting when I was 27 years old. Unpretentious and egoless. He had already worked for minimum wage and had already been broke. He did not need anyone’s approval nor was he desperate to succeed. “
Being an actor, he says, was nothing more than the occurrence of a friend from adolescence. Ben Drew, the rapper known as Plan B. “Ben and I have been friends since we were 16. He is my son’s godfather and I his daughter’s.” Incised: from his private life it is only known that he has a son named Marley.
Skrein taught Plan B to rap. So well that at the age of 17 his friend was offered a £ 100,000 deal to make him the British Eminem. Meanwhile, he studied Fine Arts (he is, they say, a worthy abstract painter), set up a swimming academy (“I’ve always played sports but that was the only one I was really good at”) and rapped with his friends from Foreign Beggars or He was involved in the African Xpress project, in which Blur leader Damon Albarn mixed Western and African artists.
“I watched Ben’s rise from the sidelines. I was by his side without anyone paying any attention to me, because I was nobody. He was rich and famous and I wasn’t. That allowed me to observe and analyze. Realize what I was doing well and what was not. I learned a lot”. Turned into a star, Drew wanted to direct a movie in 2012. “One day he asked me to act. I had never done it, not even at school. I was not interested. Art, yes. Act no ”. Ill manors it was a movie about life on the streets of London. And Skrein, despite coming from a middle-class family, had been deeply involved in the world of gangs. It almost cost him his life.
“He was very aggressive. At 17 I got into trouble and was stabbed in the back. My lung swelled. The doctor said that if he had arrived at the hospital 15 minutes later he would have died. I spent five days in hospital. I was so furious that even in the hospital I just thought about taking revenge on the guys who had attacked me. Until then, he was full of testosterone, adrenaline, and ego. I had not found my place in the world. He was a negative person, under the influence of very dark forces. And I found myself in a dilemma: I could perpetuate that model and get myself into a circle of violence or realize that it was not my path. It would be presumptuous if I spoke of enlightenment but that’s when I started chasing the light. The irony is that since then my life has become wonderful and positive and it is in my work that I explore the dark side ”.
Virtually all of his papers have that cloudy part. Even when is the good, as in The transporter legacy, He’s a bit of a bastard. He’s comfortable in ambiguous villains, as in Maleficent 2, but what embroider is the real sons of bitches, like the racist police sergeant of The Beale Street blues. “Antagonists,” he calls them. “I have played a lot of antagonists. Some with qualities that make them redeemable and others without the possibility of salvation ”.
Skrein has set an example of integrity when given the opportunity. In 2017 he was chosen to play a character in Hellboy that in the comic appeared like American of Japanese origin. As soon as it was announced, the accusations of whitewashing (choosing a white actor to play a character who originally belonged to another ethnic group) and Skrein did not hesitate to resign. Incredibly, it was the first time an actor reacted so strongly in Hollywood.
“It was easy, I got out of the car. My team told me: ‘There are several options.’ But I told them no, there was only one. It was about being honest. I was personally very upset, but it was very educational. It was very easy for me to give up that role. And what I was dying to do Hellboy. I love that comic. “
He is a specialist in getting out of the car. When he entered the cinema he was practically retired from his career as a rapper by his own decision, and was working as a swimming teacher. “Skrein was quite a popular guy in the rap world underground. He released records and gathered 300 or 500 people at his concerts, but I think he was tired, ”says Seleka Muñoz, artist, co-director of the Delimbo gallery and a great friend of the actor, who calls him“ brother ”(in Spanish). Because, wherever you see him, the actor is a great connoisseur of the Andalusian rap scene.
“I came to Spain a lot with Foreign Beggars. I learned about him hip hop from here, especially from Seville. My favorite Spanish rapper is Juaninacka. I love Shotta, he’s such a funny guy and I laugh so hard with him when we talk… And Tote King is a wise man. The hip hop unites everyone. Once I went to Seville, Seleka was sick, I went around with her friends and, although none of them spoke English, it was incredible. It was enough to share a few words. The hip hop He opened up the world to me and when I came home he knew me better. And look at me, here I am ”.
Realization: Nono Vázquez
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Ed Skrein: the actor who left ‘Game of Thrones’ and survived a stab is the star of 2020 | ICON