We met the British actor Stephen Odubola. Stephen is probably best known for his leading role as Timmy in Paramount Pictures acclaimed crime drama Blue Story opposite Micheal Ward and Sean Sagar, written and directed by Rapman. The film centres around a gang war that dooms the lifelong bond of south London friends and garnered exceptional reviews for the “elegant grit and volatile vibe” it depicted of a world ruled by crazed-leader-of-the-pack bravado and vengeance.
He will next be seen starring as Johnny in BBC’s four-part drama Boiling Point alongside Stephen Graham and Vinette Robinson. The series is based on the 2021 multi award-winning Netflix film and picks up six months on from where the film left off and received rave reviews for its simmering tension and immersive shooting approach.
«I was sixteen when I decided that was the path I wanted to follow and honestly, I was just winging it. I had no idea what I was doing but knew I wanted to make it work»
Where did your love for acting come from and when did you decide to pursue it professionally?
I started acting in primary school plays and loved drama as a subject in secondary school; I always looked forward to it and enjoyed it. I never regarded acting as a potential career until I saw people like John Boyega on screen and thought «Oh wait, I can probably try this out seriously too!».
I was sixteen when I decided that was the path I wanted to follow and honestly, I was just winging it. I had no idea what I was doing but knew I wanted to make it work. So, I started auditioning for short films and student works via sites like castingcallpro and starnow and eventually put together a showreel to show to potential agents. After a couple of years, I finally got represented by my first agent!
What can you tell us about your character in the upcoming series Boiling Point?
I play the role of Johnny. He is new to the kitchen and quickly realises he is out of his depth. Big time! After seeing the professional fast-paced kitchen environment he starts to think: « Am I really cut out for this?». Johnny is also a new father with major responsibilities and comes from a very complex background. Throughout the series, you get to see certain sides to Johnny unfold. He essentially just wants to learn and become better but whether he overcomes that feeling of imposter syndrome and feeling like a phony… you’re just gonna have to keep watching.
How do you relate to your character? Did you have any specific methods to get into character?
I actually once was Johnny. My first ever job was in the hospitality boxes at the Chelsea stadium and just like Johnny, it’s easy to quickly realise you’re out your depth because the kitchen is something you really have to get used to. Very much an environment of sink or swim. So I kinda just relived my past experience to make Johnny feel as natural as possible.
«Working with this cast and crew was an absolute pleasure and we all worked as a team»
What was filming like on set? Was it as high pressured as is depicted in the film?
We’re just good at what we do… joking! It was a very collaborative and electric environment behind the scenes, despite the tension and stresses depicted in the series. At times, it did feel very claustrophobic with the tight spaces we had to navigate through and making sure not to knock into the cameras and kitchen equipment. I guess that came into play when looking like we’re under heavy pressure. In all honesty, working with this cast and crew was an absolute pleasure and we all worked as a team to ensure we kept things light whilst off camera.
«I learn and experience things from my characters that I could never obtain anywhere else»
Among all the characters you have played, is there one in particular that has stuck with you?
They all stick with me in one way or another to be honest. I learn and experience things from my characters that I could never obtain anywhere else. In Blue Story, I relived very similar secondary school experiences. In A Violent Man, I briefly experienced what it felt like to be in prison and constant claustrophobic environment; the whole movie was shot in the prison cell. And on Boiling Point, I learnt chef practices and became more knowledgeable about certain themes and issues such as gender identity, invisible disabilities, addiction, mental health and more. So each bring a different and valuable experience that definitely stay with me. Would be hard for them not to.
Is there a particular character you have not explored that you would like to play?
I don’t know why but I would definitely like to act in something tribal. Something similar to the likes of Apocalypto, The Revenant or even Avatar. I want to tap into that disassociation from modernisation and explore a character that focuses strictly on survival and family. I think it could be really interesting and very different from my previous projects.
«For me talent is what someone possesses that makes them unique but also comes naturally to them»
What would be your dream role?
That’s a tough one! There are so many! I’ve always wanted to play a superhero. Give me any power! As long as I’m a superhero, I’m game.
What is your definition of talent?
For me, talent is what someone possesses that makes them unique but also comes naturally to them. Doesn’t necessarily mean being able to do something like act or sing, it could be being able to speak many languages, or paint. I guess ‘talent’ is subjective but I feel should make you feel some sense of achievement at the end of the day.
What are you working on at the moment? Any future projects for the year…
Right now, I’m enjoying the press campaign around Boiling Point but I also have a movie called Gassed Up that’s premiering at this year’s London Film Festival and will be released in cinemas next year.
Photographer: Kirk Truman @kirktruman
Styling: Sarah-Rose Harrison @sarahroseharrison
Grooming: Lauraine Bailey @laurainebailey