David Oyelowo: Highlights from His Reddit ‘AskMeAnything’


Actor David Oyelowo

“The way I know that I’m reading a character that I would want to play is that I start picturing myself on the set portraying that character.” – David Oyelowo

One of the best aspects of Reddit AskMeAnything chats is that since the questions come from random users they often result in unique responses from the person answering. For example, last month actor David Oyelowo held an AskMeAnything session to promote his latest film, Gringo. Reddit users asked him about his career and what he has learned as an actor on both stage and screen.

When asked what “clicks” for him when reading a script that makes him want to play a character, Oyelowo responded, “The way I know that I’m reading a character that I would want to play is that I start picturing myself on the set portraying that character.”

Oyelowo was also asked about his recent return to the stage starring in Othello in New York opposite Daniel Craig. He reflected on the challenge, saying, “I hadn’t done a play for ten years and I was desperate to go back to the stage because I do truly believe that is where you learn the most about acting, and no playwright demands more of you as an actor than Shakespeare. So that experience for me was an amazing one, especially since we did it in a small off-Broadway theater where it was a very intense audience.”

Later, he elaborated on his training and stage background, adding, “I trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. It was a predominately theatric training and I was there for three years. For me, there is no greater training for an actor than classical theater because it is the hardest language to master and it is the most challenging material to act out. The feeling you get from doing Shakespeare of a Greek tragedy is one of invincibility. So my advice to any aspiring actor is to start on the stage.”

On the other end of the acting spectrum, a question about Oyelowo’s thoughts on acting in Rise of the Planet of the Apes turned into a humorous anecdote. “I enjoyed watching my screen death, but I was confused by acting my screen death because when we shot it, they put me in half of a helicopter and kept a camera on a crane that would very speedily retract from me while I was falling, which sounds a lot simpler than it actually is. Never have I felt more stupid than screaming my head off in a stationary half helicopter. But bizarrely, it’s one of my son’s favorite scenes that I’ve ever done which is very upsetting considering I die.”

A question about his opinion of Paul Thomas Anderson lead to Oyelowo revealing how important one of the director’s movies is to him. He replied, “I’m a huge fan of his films and There Will Be Blood is a big favorite of mine. I watch that film especially when I have a heavy acting role ahead of me because I feel that Daniel’s performance is one for the ages.”

Like most actors, Oyelowo has auditioned for roles that he didn’t get. One of his earliest experiences with rejection still resulted in an amazingly uplifting keepsake. He says, “I auditioned for Amistad when I was still at drama school. But Steven Spielberg wrote me a very nice letter that he liked my acting that was incredibly encouraging.”

Finally, when asked what was the hardest aspect of breaking into the industry, Oyelowo reveals that he was focused on playing compelling characters. He says, “The hardest part for me was trying to make sure that I didn’t play any stereotypical or caricatured racial characters. I was determined to always play characters that had dimension and complexity.”

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