Former Big Brother Naija reality show star and actor, Tobi Bakre, has revealed he did all manner of gritty stuff to fit in his role in ‘Gangs of Lagos’, a feisty crime thriller.
Tobi played Obalola, a street king (Eleniyi, the owner of men) who started out nondescript with a childhood nestled with scars from a little beginning.
He said it was his first time playing a lead character and the first time he really let himself go to embody a character.
He featured in the recent episode of Menisms' audiovisual podcast.
Tobi said, “For the Gangs of Lagos’, that was challenging because, like, for the first time... you know, as guys now, we build so many walls that it's like you are ready for all the possible sad outcomes in life mentally. Like you don’t know it but... I was now playing the role of a strong guy, but in the same movie, he had moments when he had to be vulnerable. Bro, I had the toughest time. I had to tear my walls down.
“You know those plastic [herbal bitters] drinks, na? I drank two within the space of five minutes. I just felt like I drank water because I didn’t feel anything. I was listening to the saddest music. This is the song I always remember from Gangs of Lagos, "Celia" by Tiwa Savage. It is a very emotional song. I wasn’t trying to fake [my role]. I needed to be really sad; I needed to be there. So, I was putting myself in the shoes of this character.
“I was self-reflecting." There was a graveyard right in front of where we were shooting. So my head was in different places. And eventually, we shot that scene. After we shot it and they said ‘cut’, everyone stayed quiet. And people in the background were sobbing. It was almost as if for that moment everybody forgot that we were acting, and some people were actually tearing up.”
The ex-TV reality star said he rolled on the floor and rubbed sand on his face to fit into the role.
He, however, said his challenging task was revealing the character’s vulnerability.
He revealed that he struggled to leave the character for a while after the movie.
Tobi said, “It [the character] leads sometimes like my wife now when I got home initially... Hardly, anger is the last emotion you can feel, but my fuss became shorter. On the road I’m driving, my fuss is a bit shorter because of this character I’m currently infusing. So, after the whole thing, I had to just ease out.”
‘Gangs of Lagos’, produced and directed by Jade Osiberu, is the first African original for the video streaming platform Amazon Prime.
The movie follows the story of three friends: Obalola (Tobi Bakre), Gift (Adesua Etomi-Wellington), and Ify (Chike-Ezekpeazu Osebuka), who each have to navigate their own destiny while growing up on the rough and bustling streets of Isale Eko, Lagos.
It hit screens on April 7, 2023.