Suicide Squad fans have been on the edge of their seats waiting for the DC comics/HBO Max follow-up series Peacemaker. Seasoned theater, TV, and film actor Chukwudi Iwuji plays Clemson Murn, the leader of an eclectic task force cobbled together to keep the peace in a hilariously chaotic DC Universe. Iwuji starred in Barry Jenkins’ The Underground Railroad and BBC’s The Split and is making his Marvel universe debut in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. BGN had the pleasure of meeting with Iwuji via phone call while this hard-working actor was on a break from filming.
What is in the water in Nigeria that makes such spectacular actors?
Back home in Nigeria, performance has always been part of life. We used to have a lot of power cuts, so the candles would go up, and whether it was an aunt or a cousin, someone had a story. Usually, something to do with the supernatural, some kind of ghosts, whatever. In daily life, you’d sit down and watch any of your uncles, who come visit the house. You bring them a Coke or a Fanta, and they start telling stories. It’s theater. When we moved to the UK, part of being in school was to be singing or performing in plays. Then by the time I was seven, I was performing at the National Theater and being filmed on TV.
Storytelling, as far as I remember, has always been part of it. It’s in our blood; we’re performers. If you know many Nigerians, you’ll know how important education is to us. We are steeped in literature, everything from Shakespeare to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and of course music. Fela is really the father of Afrobeat. I just like to do my little part in moving that forward.
In 2014, you played Edmund in King Lear at theater company workshop in NYC in the spring, then that summer you played his brother Edgar at the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in Central Park. Who was the most fun to play and why?
Edmund. Definitely more fun because it’s easier and you get the girl and you get to be a bad guy. Yeah, a traumatized yet alluring and attractive character is the single coolest thing to play. You don’t have to…