Many Americans were introduced to actor Nonso Anozie on HBO’s 'Game of Thrones' where he played Xaro Xhoan Daxos but now the British-Nigerian thespian is looking to become a household name. Like Rutina Wesley’s 'True Blood' character Tara Thornton, sci-fi dramas are just more fun with one or more black characters and Anozie is perfecting his talent for nabbing these roles. Acting in films like The Grey, Rocknrolla, and the upcoming film Ender's Game starring Viola Davis and Harrison Ford, Anozie is quietly, despite his 6’6’ frame, cementing his place in Hollywood.
EBONY chatted with Mr. Anozie about working with Viola Davis and Harrison Ford in this fall’s Ender’s Game, playing Samson in the History Channel’s forthcoming biblical series and keeping cool in 130 degrees.
EBONY: Tell us about your new role playing Samson in the History Channel’s upcoming television series, which may debut as early as the Christmas holidays.
Nonso Anozie: It’s a series of ten episodes from Genesis to Revelations, they’re taking out the prominent stories and I’m lucky enough to play Samson. I’ve always wanted to play this part, I watched Victor Mature play Samson in Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah and I loved it. If you’re not familiar with the story, Samson is sent by God to lead his people, the Israelites, out of bondage by the Philistines. Unfortunately he doesn’t get his power straight away, he’s besotted by Philistine women, especially Delilah with whom he’s madly in love. It’s a great role, he’s the original Superman.
EBONY: And you’re filming in Morocco, where it’s 130 degrees in the shade, how are you coping?
NA: I stay inside whenever I can, I’m just thankful whenever we film inside. And I thought New Orleans was hot!
EBONY: Speaking of the Big Easy, you recently filmed the upcoming sci-fi movie Ender’s Game there, tell us about your role in that project.
NA: Ender’s Game is set 60 years from now, earth has been attacked by aliens and we are preparing a preemptive attack on the intruders, the formic race. Kids have been recruited because they’ve got the fastest reflexes and can learn quicker and Sergeant James Dap, my character, is training them using war games, which the kids think are fake but they’re real. Sergeant Dap trains young Ender, a genius little kid with the opportunity to save earth from an attack of formic aliens. My character sees something special in Ender from the start so he’s extra hard on him. At first, the audience will think that Dap’s really mean but then, they’ll see it’s for a reason and he and Ender build a good relationship. Ender’s Game is fantastic and I’ve gotten to see quite a few bits and I love the way it’s turned out.
EBONY: Viola Davis and Harrison Ford also star in Ender’s Game, what was it like working with the Academy Award nominees?
NA: Viola Davis is a lovely person and we’d talk offset. I don’t have any scenes with her in the film but I’d come to set on my off days to watch because I enjoy all facets of movie making. Harrison Ford invited me to fly on his private plane to Los Angeles, and he’s great to work with. He’s really down to earth and we got to know each other quite well. Ben Kingsley is also in the movie and we worked together on another film so we’ve been great friends since then. Ender’s Game was a great movie and I’m looking forward to the world seeing it.
EBONY: What’s been most surprising about your role in the film?
NA: Originally, it wasn’t written for a Black man, Sergeant Dap is a white guy in the book. But the casting staff liked me so much that I got the part and I get quite a few roles like that. As soon as I started acting in England, I got unusual roles. Although I’m 6 foot six and agents might standardly cast me in tough guy roles or the big guy in the back, I’ve been very blessed to do roles that makes them think twice about how they're gonna cast me.