From a Botswanian Prince, a civil rights icon to a Tuskegee airman, David Oyelowo has tackled an incredible variety of serious roles. In his latest project, the classically trained Afro-British actor is tackling comedy and is sure to garner a few laughs in “Gringo” where he plays a Yoruba immigrant who finds himself stuck in Mexico after a disastrous work trip.
“I’ve played all these roles that are fairly quote-unquote important,” shares the Golden Globe nominated actor, “and before Gringo came along, I’d never really done a dark comedy before so for me this film was a great opportunity to express that part of my personality.”
Incredibly funny and heartfelt, “Gringo” offers moviegoers a fresh take on the action comedy genre as it follows Oyelowo’s character Harold Soyinka, a hard-working peon at a pharmaceutical company, whose high maintenance wife Bonnie (Thandie Newton) is not only bleeding their bank account dry, but is also cheating on him with his boss Richard (Joel Edgerton) who is plotting to fire him. Add to that, Richard is also screwing the vice president of his company Elaine (Charlize Theron) and both are selling drugs to a Mexican cartel.
Cash-poor and concerned that’s he’s about to lose his job after hearing rumors of a corporate merger, Harold decides to stage his own kidnapping once in Mexico with plans to pocket the ransom money. Unfortunately for him, his unscrupulous boss has not only let the company’s kidnapping insurance lapse, but has also cut ties with the drug cartels, much to their chagrin, which rapidly sets off an escalating chain of violent events as Harold crosses the delicate line from law-abiding citizen to wanted criminal. A dark comedy drizzled with action and dramatic intrigue, the film which is directed by Nash Edgerton, is hilarious and socially poignant at the same time as it explores work ethics and riddles existing stereotypes.
“I challenged Nash to make Harold a Nigerian immigrant,” continues Oyelowo who sprouts Yoruba in several scenes. “My parents are Nigerian and I lived in Nigeria for seven years, so that element gave me something I could really relate to. Plus I wanted to bring something fresh to the role because when you have a character who is deemed a loser, there are temptations to go for fairly low-hanging fruit by having him be nerdy and overweight and wear glasses. I felt having Harold be a Nigerian in Mexico was an interesting way to truly make him a fish out of water.”
From Sharlto Copley, who plays a mercenary hired to rescue Harold to a ruthless Beatles-loving cartel kingpin known as The Black Panther (Carlos Corona), the eclectic characters truly entertain in this chaotic comedy. While Oyelowo’s Harold provides the film’s heart and soul, it’s the reactions from Theron and Joel Edgerton as his narcissistic bosses that provide many of the film’s funniest moments.
“Gringo” releases in theaters March 9th
By Samantha Ofole-Prince/Photos by Gunther Campine Courtesy of Amazon Studios