Interview: Djimon Hounsou
Since his breakout role in Steven Spielberg's 1997 film "Amistad," Benin-born actor Djimon Hounsou has been a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. With two Academy Award nominations under his belt, a vast and diverse resume that includes everything from "Gladiator" to "Furious 7", Hounsou brings depth and compassion to every role that he's cast in. In his most recent film, "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword," Hounsou stars alongside Charlie Hunnam in Guy Ritchie's take on the Medieval fantasy epic and legend of Excalibur. In the film, Hounsou portrays Bedivere one of Arthur's key advisors who becomes a Knight of the Round Table once Arthur takes the throne.
Recently, at a quiet hotel in downtown New York City over cappuccinos, I chatted with Mr. Hounsou about "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" his career trajectory, returning to Benin, his directorial aspirations, and what's next.
Aramide Tinubu: “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” is a stunning film to watch. You’ve done a ton of epics prior to this film including “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Legend of Tarzan” among others, so why was “King Arthur” different?
Djimon Hounsou: “King Arthur” is everybody’s story. That’s why it’s so different. It’s every man’s story. In essence, this portrayal of King Arthur is even better because we get to see his journey. Nobody does anything by themselves; nobody becomes King by themselves. In the film, we can see how instrumental some of the knights were in helping him achieve that legacy.
AT: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film? Guy Ritchie throws in so may different elements in this movie.
DH: Well I think the most challenging aspect had to be Guy Ritchie himself. He’s a force to be reckoned with, and he’s a dynamic director and storyteller. He’s very animated to the point where he can just give you the scene. He has to know what he wants and where he is going with this story. So, that helped, but it was a complete surrender to his directions. (Laughing) I was obviously confused at times while were making it.
AT: The non-linear timeline in the film insane!
DH: Absolutely. It was foggy, and I didn’t know where I was for the most part but at the same time I completely surrendered to Guy Ritchie. When you hear that Guy Ritchie is attached to a story, you think, “Ooh, that’s going to be an interesting story.” That’s the notion you get when you hear his name.
AT: He’s an auteur.
DH: Yes. He’s becoming such an iconic director because when you see a film, you can say, “That’s Guy Ritchie’s style.” But, at the same time, I’m not sure if he has a style.
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