Rising Star: Raz Adoti

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I had always had a love affair with Spielberg movies and to get the opportunity to work with him was a dream come true. I remember I would hang out on set after I'd been wrapped just to watch him work. I would do the same when Sir Anthony Hopkins and Morgan Freeman had scenes. I felt so incredibly blessed to be a part of it all.

Charismatic Raz Adoti will next be seen this Fall in Universal Pictures’ Doom, in which he will co-star with Dwayne “The Rock� Johnson. Raz can also be caught later this year in Haven, his second movie with Orlando Bloom. Born Razaaq Adoti in England to Nigerian parents, he’s the second oldest of five children. After graduating from high school, he and his best friend decided to attend college and become actors. After his first year in college, at the age of 17, he landed his first job in theater. That segued into his first appearance on TV in the U.K. By 18, Raz had discovered his passion, and was cast as “Nathan Detroit� in the National Youth and Music Theatre Company’s (NYMT) production of Guys and Dolls.

Upon graduation, he was signed by one of London’s most reputable talent agencies and his professional career was truly underway. With a deep desire to develop his craft on the big screen, Raz’s dream came true in 1997 when he was cast in a significant supporting role in Steven Spielberg’s new epic Amistad. He felt humbled to be a part of the distinguished cast (including Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman and Matthew McConaughey) assembled to chronicle a very important chapter in American history. After completing Amistad, he returned to London with a newfound determination, working on various TV and film projects. By 2001, Hollywood came calling again and this time Raz had a chance to work with another Oscar-winning director, Ridley Scott in Black Hawk Down where he would play the primary villain. More recently, he has gone on to co-star in Resident Evil: Apocalypse opposite Milla Jovovich.

In his downtime, Raz loves to escape on his motorcycle and whenever he can, hitting the open road. Plus, he is a certified diver and enjoys attending the opera, watching movies and playing in a soccer league. He also admits to being a bit of a softy when it comes to his pet Abyssinian cat, Sahara.

BSN: I loved you in Resident Evil 2. Doom is another sci-fi horror flick Are you afraid of being typecast?

RA: The biggest issue with ‘RE-2’ and ‘DOOM’ for me was that they are both derived from video games. The sci-fi thing was never really an issue. The actual characters I play in them are very different. The only real similarity is that they are both brothers with guns!

BSN: What's the film about?

RA: Ostensibly, ‘DOOM’ is about a group of futuristic marines, the RRTS, the Rapid Response Tactical Squad headed by ‘The Rock’ sent through a wormhole into the future on a planet called Olduvai to investigate some strange goings-on. There’s a little humor, a little romance, and a lot of gun play! There’s pretty much something in there for everyone.

BSN: What's your character like?

RA: I play a member of the RRTS called ‘Duke’. He’s the kind of guy that finds humor in any situation no matter how inappropriate it may be. After initially being pissed at his vacation being cut short, Duke soon gets his game face on. He’s fun loving, but very serious about being part of the squad as he has no family. During the mission, he has a transition after losing someone close to him. He also has the hots for a scientist on Olduvai named ‘Sam’ who’s played by Rosamund Pike.

BSN: The running joke is that in most horror flicks, the Black guy always dies first. Are you the first to die here?

RA: Hell no!!! That’s an unfortunate tag which is constantly being challenged and disproved by the roles people of color are playing.

BSN: I read that after graduating high school you and your best friend decided to become actors. What became of your friend?

RA: My boy has a very successful career as an actor.

BSN: Would you say that your big break came in landing the role of Yamba in Amistad?

RA: Being cast as ‘Yamba’ in the movie ‘Amistad’ changed my perception of myself and the industry on many levels. It was by far the most personal and intimate role I have ever portrayed in my career and it definitely changed my direction as to the type of actor I wanted to be and the types of stories I wanted to tell.

BSN: What was it like working with Steven Spielberg and such an impressive cast?

RA: I always find this question hard to answer because it is impossible for me to answer without the use of clichés. It was simply a phenomenal experience. It was the type of situation you aspire to as an actor. I vividly remember thinking, when I was offered the role, “It’s not supposed to happen like this!� I was less than two years out of drama school and here I am, a kid from East London in Hollywood. I’d always though you pay your dues for 10 years or so and then just maybe you’ll get a shot at Hollywood. I had always had a love affair with Spielberg movies and to get the opportunity to work with him was a dream come true. I remember I would hang out on set after I'd been wrapped just to watch him work. I would do the same when Sir Anthony Hopkins and Morgan Freeman had scenes. I felt so incredibly blessed to be a part of it all.

BSN: Did the experience of working on a movie about slavery affect you emotionally? How so?

RA: It absolutely affected me and everyone else on the set. There were days I’d just have to find a corner and cry and I know I wasn’t alone in that. Having African parents and always having a love affair with the Motherland, it was harrowing to see my people in chains. There was one scene in particular where some people were being whipped on the ship and there was this beautiful African woman holding a new born child witnessing this. She then threw herself with the baby overboard thus committing suicide and freeing them both. What touched me the most watching that scene being shot was the serenity she possessed and the esoteric understanding that she was emancipating her body so it could join her spirit. In the midst of this torture she, for a moment, almost looked happy. Everyone was affected that day.

BSN: You were born in England, but your parents are from Nigeria. Growing up, did you feel more British or African?

RA: Growing up, I felt like a regular East London kid.  I became aware of my African heritage around eight or so. I think I found it cool and mysterious. It always excited me as a kid, and to this day, knowing I have so much more to me, I’ve always had a very romantic view of Africa and I definitely have a strong spiritual connection with Nigeria.

BSN: Now that you've settled in Los Angeles, do you feel more American than anything else?

RA: I feel global. There are parts in every culture I connect with.

BSN: You received some serious training as a stage actor in some prestigious academies. What made you turn to film?

RA: I was simply a movie junkie. I love theatre and I’m itching to do more, but there are certain subtleties you can enjoy with film. I would sit down and watch Marlon Brando for hours, his little nuances and idiosyncrasies, tiny little facial gestures that spoke a thousand words. It’s the same with all greats: De Niro, Pacino, Morgan Freeman, etcetera. I try and learn from the best to hopefully raise my game.

BSN: Which do you prefer, the theater or the big screen?

RA: Right now, big screen.

BSN: You're currently working on Second in Command. What is that movie about?

RA: I was a little concerned when this came along because of type-casting. This is more of an issue than the ‘Doom’ or ’RE-2’ thing. I’m playing a marine, but it’s set in modern day. The character’s name is Gunny and he’s a no-nonsense kinda guy. It’s based in a fictitious country undergoing a civil war after their first democratic election after Communism. It’s basically a siege movie. The Marines, headed by Jean-Claude Van Damme, rescue the newly elected president and give him refuge at the U.S. embassy. Hundreds gather outside demanding his head and we have to find a way out.

BSN: What advice do you have for anyone who would like to follow in your footsteps.

RA: Just focus on your goal and never allow anyone to dissuade you. You have to be very strong mentally and spiritually if you are to make it in this industry. I also think good theatre training is the best way in.

BSN: Do you have a website where your fans can write you?

RA: Hopefully, by the end of the Summer.

BSN: Do you answer your fan mail?

RA: Yes, I do.

BSN: What's the question you always want to be asked, but never get asked?

RA: “Will you marry me?� from Beyonce’ Knowles.


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