Fisayo Ak­i­nade

GT (UK) - - CUCUMBER - WORDS RYAN BUTCHER

How would you de­scribe your character Dean? Well, he’s quite wild. What you see is what you get, re­ally. He’s not ma­li­cious, as such, but he’s sort of de­vi­ous and just very, very open and hon­est – which makes him fun and like­able, but also makes him ir­re­spon­si­ble. He has no no­tion of re­spon­si­bil­ity at all. In the first episode of Ba­nana, it’s all about him try­ing to get the rent, and it’s not ac­tu­ally a big deal for him at all. Whereas Fred­die [Fox] is slightly old enough to know that if we don’t pay up, the land­lord may ac­tu­ally kill us. But Dean just doesn’t see that as a prob­lem! Was there any­thing you found par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing or dif­fi­cult? Asides from hav­ing your bits locked in a chastity belt, of course! Well I won’t be do­ing that again, that’s for sure! [Laughs] It was painful and just un­com­fort­able. Like hav­ing some­one with a plas­tic hand hold­ing onto your parts – it was very weird. I just had a blast, though. I know that’s a bor­ing an­swer and I’m sorry – but I had a blast. The thing that scared me the most was, you know, you au­di­tion and you get the part, so you’re re­ally ex­cited, and then you’re like ‘Fuck, I ac­tu­ally have to do this now. I have to carry a whole episode of Ba­nana. The first episode of the se­ries.’ That was in­tim­i­dat­ing a bit. One of the big talk­ing points – and the big el­e­ments get­ting peo­ple ex­cited about Cu­cum­ber et al – is show­ing the dif­fer­ent at­ti­tudes to­wards sex and re­la­tion­ships be­tween dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions of gay men. It seems like there’s some­thing for ev­ery­one to re­late to. I can’t re­mem­ber when I’ve seen older gay men rep­re­sented on TV – apart from Vi­cious. I don’t think I’ve ever re­ally seen men in their 40s who’re just go­ing about and liv­ing their lives, re­ally. I don’t think any­one’s re­ally seen that. And then It takes a lot of balls to stand with your meat and two veg in a chastity belt in your first ma­jor star­ring telly role, but Fisayo Ak­i­nade, who plays Fred­die and Vincent’s flat­mate and work col­league Dean, is let­ting it all hang out in Cu­cum­ber. In more ways than one. He’s also the star of the premier episode of Ba­nana, too. So trust us, you’ll be see­ing a lot more of this ris­ing star in the weeks to come to have it be in­ter­ra­cial and all those things is won­der­ful. I re­lated to Dean sort of in­stantly be­cause I can un­der­stand why he’s ly­ing, and I can un­der­stand how you can just open an app now and have sex when­ever you want. I think there’ll be peo­ple watch­ing it and go­ing, ‘Oh yeah, I did that last week! I met some­one in a ho­tel for sex!’ There’s a lovely res­o­nance to all the sto­ries. It’s just very rep­re­sen­ta­tive of gay char­ac­ters, but it doesn’t say, you know, all 40-year-olds want younger men and all 19-yearolds are wild and want sex all the time. It leaves it open for peo­ple to take away what they want from it. How did it feel to be work­ing with Rus­sell T Davies on such a sureto-be iconic show? He’s in­sane. It’s un­be­liev­able how good he is. And he’s like, a ge­nius, but lovely. You sort of go, ‘I don’t know how you’re be­ing so bril­liant and nice.’ My big in­tro to Rus­sell was Doc­tor Who and The Sec­ond Com­ing. And I re­mem­ber watch­ing and think­ing, ‘You wrote this?!’ And then I watched Queer as Folk. Fun­nily enough, one of my first-ever roles as an ex­tra while I was still in high school was in Rus­sell’s Bob and Rose. And now, ten years later, I’m work­ing on one of his dra­mas! You men­tioned the in­ter­ra­cial el­e­ments to the story, too. Was that im­por­tant to you as a black ac­tor to rep­re­sent the of­ten-over­looked black LGBT com­mu­nity? The weird thing was, I re­mem­ber read­ing it and go­ing, ‘Oh shit, that’s an in­ter­ra­cial gay cou­ple.’ I’ve never seen that on Bri­tish TV! The thing I love though is it’s not ac­tu­ally spo­ken about, you know? With Cu­cum­ber, it just feels much more in­clu­sive with­out mak­ing a point of it. Th­ese peo­ple ex­ist – black, gay teenagers ex­ist – and they should be on our TVs and they should be rep­re­sented on our screens with­out it feel­ing preachy. Rus­sell has done that ef­fort­lessly.

Cu­cum­ber episode three Ba­nana episode one

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