Posted by Janie Logan
Jan 28, 2011, 17:54 GMT
08/12/2010 - Gbenga Akinnagbe - "Lottery Ticket" World Premiere - Arrivals - Grauman's Chinese Theatre - Hollywood, CA, USA © Tommaso Boddi / PR Photos
When Gbenga Akinnagbe says heís blessed, thatís almost putting it mildly. His acting career began less than a decade ago, arising out of an interest to study the craft, which led to auditions, which led to him landing his first major role on David Simon's masterpiece, The Wire, as stone-cold drug soldier Chris Partlow.
It was a grand beginning in the world of acting for the D.C.-native and former government employee, and he has found consistent work since the series ended on HBO in 2008--and good work, at that! He has acted alongside Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Savages), Denzel Washington and John Travolta (The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3), among others.
Ten years might not seem long for someone who didn't know he wanted to be in show business until he was in show business, but Akinnagbe has dedicated himself to all the forms of creative expression that world has to offer. He's done theater, television, and films, as well as trying his hand at writing and directing.
He spent the fall in New York City, splitting his time on The Good Wife as Pastor Isaiah, spiritual advisor to the repentent Peter Florrick, and Nurse Jackie for his upcoming arc in the latter half of Season 3.
The TV Cricket: So working on both The Good Wife and Nurse Jackie simultaneously, how are you splitting your time?
Gbenga Akinnagbe: The last couple of months have been pretty busy going back and forth, but a lot of what I've been doing lately on The Good Wife has been shadowing--I've just been following a director around for one of the episodes. So when I'm not here on Nurse Jackie, I'm over there following and learning while she does pre-production and shooting and into post--a really good director named Rosemary Rodriguez. When the opportunity came up to shadow, I couldn't resist to learn more about directing from a really good director. I'm very blessed.
TVC: Do you like being a recurring guest-star so you have that freedom to do multiple projects, or do you prefer being a series regular like you were on The Wire?
GA: It's funny you say that, I was just having this conversation with someone. Being a series regular is a great gig if you can get it. What I've found out is also a great gig is being a recurring guest star because of--just for the reason you mentioned--you can do other projects. You're not beholden to anyone. It's on an episode by episode basis, and if it's a good show and you've got a good storyline, it's kind of exciting to see what they're gonna do with it next--you're not sure. But meanwhile, you can go and do other things. And I love doing other things.
TVC: On The Good Wife, the big message of your most recent episode, "Bad Girls," seemed to be that everybody is engaged in politics at some level. Obviously, there's the State's Attorney race, but also among the lawyers at Lockhart Gardner, and then between your character and his father at the church. Do you think Pastor Isaiah was completely surprised by that betrayal, or has he become so accustomed to politics that he just accepts it when people like Jeremiah [Frankie Faison] put their desire for power over family and faith?
GA: I think Isaiah knows the environment in which he swims. He was slightly blindsided when his father made his move, but he knew it was within the realm of possibility with his dad and Chicago politics. Isaiah is trying to do something different than his father, something different from his former self. He is trying to bring genuine change. It is an uphill battle, of course.
TVC: Isaiah's endorsement of Peter seemed like a pretty big deal at the time, but how much weight will it carry with voters in his community now that he's been pushed aside?
GA: Good question. It could go either way. Will the people follow the church or the man? I honestly donít know yet. I'm excited to see what happens next myself!
TVC: How was your experience working on Nurse Jackie? Any interesting stories?
GA: I loved working on Nurse Jackie! I havenít worked on any one show as consistently since The Wire. I was really able to have fun and get to know the cast and crew. There were a lot of interesting storiesÖmost canít leave the set, haha. The last night of filming we were working Ďtil about 2 am, I was hopped up on sugar from all the special foods given on the last day of shooting. That, coupled with the late hour, I was loopy!
TVC: What can you tell us about your role in Season 3 and how you interact with the other characters?
GA: I wonít say much, I want you to watch it! I will say that I play a new nurse named Kelly, who is as good a nurse as Jackie, and as perceptive.
TVC: You've already amassed an impressive list of collaborators in your 10 years of acting--are there any actors/writers/directors on your wish list to work with in the future, or people you really connected with that you would want to work with again if the opportunity presented itself?
GA: I have had such a great ten years, and have met so many great people. I would love to work with almost all of them again. I would love to do a project with my friend Clark Johnsonóheís a really good actor and director, I think we could make some good art.
TVC: You mentioned that you've been shadowing Rosemary Rodriguez on The Good Wife--what are some of the most important things you've learned from her?
GA: The most important thing I learned from Rosemary is the importance of prep work. Most of the work is done in prep. Good preparation will save you during a shoot. She was great to shadow, really giving.
TVC: As you get more experience writing and directing, how do you find that affecting your creative approach as an actor?
GA: Those other disciplines inform my acting. It gives me a sense of the wider picture, when I need to see the wider picture. It's also humbling in a way. As an actor, one can sometimes get it twisted and think it's all about the actor, haha--it's not.
TVC: Do you have other upcoming projects that you'd like to share about?
GA: More of The Good Wife and more of Nurse Jackie. I plan on doing more writing for the NY Times and Globalgrind.com. I guess I'm open to what dreams may come.
The Good Wife airs Tuesday nights 10pm on CBS, and Nurse Jackie premieres March 28th on Showtime. You can follow @theTVcricket on Twitter for more tv news and reviews!
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