“I am the only actor in a very long time in the industry that has 2 films in two different festival in one month and both world Premiering in 2 completely different countries and crossing over to diverse markets, making me a very different rear kind of actor and a very strong leading man, as I am now attracting major leading man offers based on this 2 completely different films.”
Highly acclaimed for being the most photographed and publicized international fashion runway and print models of his era, Oris Erhuero transitioned into television, stage and film with a regular role in the Global hit action adventures series “The Adventures of Sinbad”, which made him famous, followed by endless guest starring roles on US and UK prime time TV, Stage and film Productions. Later on, Oris has transitioned in to producing films also. Staring in two major defining films of his career in 2015 – The Cursed Ones and Road to Yesterday, not only as the leading man but as executive producer in one of them, Oris said: ”it’s not just about an actor waiting around anymore, it’s about going out there and creating work for yourself.”
Special Interview by Raluca Iorga & Cristian Iacobescu
Most people remember you from the Adventures of Sinbad series. How did your story with the cinema world start? When did you feel that click for this industry?
Well, I am very grateful that many people around the world still remember me from the hit TV series “The Adventures of Sinbad” cause in reality it was my first time on screen and where I really grew to become the screen actor I have become today. Originally I was only supposed to be in one episode which was the pilot and the tester, where I was supposed to be killed off, and it so happened that during the test run with the audience in Los Angeles but they got a feedback that I was one of the favorite characters and they would like me to stay. This moment was the very defining moment in my acting career as things clicked, and its where I realized this was what I was destined to do and must take it very seriously cause chances like this come once in a lifetime, and I must cease this opportunity. And the rest was history. Then, after The Adventures of Sinbad ended, I decided to test the big screen where I went on to do Highlander 4 endgame with Christopher Lambert.
Recently you’ve been involved in two world premiere movies – The Cursed Ones and Road to Yesterday. How did you succeed on working on two different leading roles for two different movies at the same time? How could you transfer yourself from one character to another at that deep level that creates authenticity?
Well, The Cursed Ones was shot in Ghana and based on a reporter who goes in to a small village to cover a story. Only he unveiled more than he anticipated which led to a very deep discovery about innocent children being persecuted and accused of witch craft and at times killed or tortured. And 5 months later after shooting that, I had to go to Nigeria to shoot a completely different movie that was a love bitter sweet story based on a road trip of a husband and his wife. It was a challenge switching from one character to another and making sure that not a trace of the character flowed in to Road to Yesterday from The Cursed Ones. It was also very important that I completely cleansed myself, physically and mentally and absolutely let go of everything. I knew I had to walk in clean and fresh on to the next project immediately, which took a lot of trusting oneself to do that. It’s part of the reason one must study and train hard in the early stages when training as an actor to avoid been stuck upon or repeating yourself in the future. I have been very blessed and good at willing to devout my whole being to any given character at any given moment, as I am always challenging myself to never repeat. Constantly fighting and determine to make sure the audience is always seeing something fresh and new from me always. I’m also pushing hard to bring something different to each project, it was nice to see both directors, see how I split both margin and keeping the characters and films, both a million miles apart from each other as if there were two different actors. Both directors individually were blown away at the end result and that was my goal and wish, which is every actor’s ultimate goals at the end of the day: to trust the choice within you make to embark on the character and trust it.
What are you hoping your new movies will represent for your career?
Well, so far so good it’s all taken me by surprise, as I’ve been told that I am the only actor in a very long time in the industry that has 2 films in two different festival in one month and both world Premiering in 2 completely different countries and crossing over to diverse markets, making me a very different rear kind of actor and a very strong leading man, as I am now attracting major leading man offers based on this 2 completely different films. So, for me it’s still a journey and I’m enjoying it and I’m grateful to be working. Because in reality all I want is to continue to attract great scripts and work with great directors from all works of life who would challenge me.
Taking it one by one, what’s the message in The Cursed Ones and how did your character challenge you?
The message in The Cursed Ones is quiet clear, we must rethink the way we think and react to others in our society today, as this kind of behavior is not just in some little African villages somewhere out there, we can all look around us this instant and see the endless unnecessary war ravaging across the land, like the recent event in Paris which has also touched me as a very close friend of mine’s brother lost his wife and sister living behind 2 kids and a husband, as she went out to celebrate her birthday on Friday 13 of November, at one of the cafés that was sprayed with machine guns that evening. I have to say it was the most difficult character I have had to play to date. Especially during my preparation I had to watch a documentary called “Saving Africa’s Witch Children”, which also won the Bafta Awards in 2009, which showed very graphic details and very disturbing images of these children and what some of them had to go through. It was hard to watch, I had to put on an extra 10 pounds and let go of my gym regiment, as the character was a very depressed character also struggling with alcohol and very low in energy, interesting enough as all my character’s to date have always been very energetic. So having to stop and slow everything down and let go was very hard but I trusted and throw myself in to the story and character and hope and wished for the best. I felt it was important; I was true to the character as to execute the story by any means necessary.
Do you consider that your African origins helped you to better understand the story in the movie and created more empathy between you and your character?
Absolutely, thanks to my African origins, as it definitely played a major part in helping me better understand the story in the movie, but I still had to dig very deep and go to some very dark places and not relay too much on my origins, cause at the end of the day it’s important to be sincerely honest to the character and let it breath as to keep the audience following the character’s arc and journey as smoothly as possible, and keep the audience engaged.
How did it form you, coming from a family of 7 children, being the elder of them?
Being the first of seven children comes with a lot of responsibilities and something I have held on to since a kid, after my mom and dad it all kind of all falls on me, as there is 3 of us boys and 4 girls, so am kind of the one who kinds of bridge the gap with my parents and my siblings and that has followed me in to my everyday life as well as dealing with people differently on a daily basis. It’s alike I’m almost the big bro to every friend and most people around me and I am honored to be born with that position.
How are you spreading the “give back” philosophy among the people next to you or to your audience, thus creating a better world (isn’t that what we all desire)?
I think it’s important as an artist to realize the potential we have to help make a deference in society, especially more so at a time like this in the world, I feel it’s also very important I always remain very grounded at all time, as well as constantly showing gratitude by given back to the best of my ability. And I mean given back as in sometimes encouraging the next generation of people or a friend or someone in front of me wanting to do what I do, or just been there for anyone struggling to grapple or come to terms with certain situations in life. And sometimes a simple “hello” or some sort of acknowledgement goes a long way, one will be surprise when you say ”good morning”, ”good afternoon” or just a simple sentence like “have a fantastic day today “ or just taken a moment and time out of your very busy moment in life to open the door for someone. It’s amazing how these simple words and kind gestures can ignite someone’s day and make them feel alive and worthy, it’s these simple things and ways that one can create a ripple effect of greatness in their lives as well as their communities and across borders far and wide. It’s important I interact with public and not make myself feel like some high and mighty arrogant individual, that’s so untouchable and distant from reality, cause in the end it’s the public and those beautiful fans who were children watching me yesterday in the likes of THE ADVENTURES OF SINBAD, who are now very important and great people of society today that are still hailing, praising and supporting me and encouraging me to want to act and do what I do still today, so for me am always given back even at times supporting others and their charity and helping to create value, it’s very important.
Related to your other premiere – Road to Yesterday, what do you think it would keep a relationship from going into the “problems” zone?
It’s very simple and as simple as it is, it’s also very difficult. I have watched my mother and father who are still together after 54 years flourish in their relationship, I see their bond, their love and trust for each other, stronger than ever, they do everything together, but one thing I notice is my father pays great attention to my mother and vice versa, my mother too. They both constantly make that great effort to listen to each other and always sorting things out whiten themselves.
So one kind advice I will give you guys and girls is to listen to each other…. and pay great attention to each other, and especially great attention to details, make the effort to cherish one another every moment you get, as there is great magic in those moments, it will save you hell as well as a lot of break ups, heart ache and those horrible things that can lead to a whole loads of suffering.
How would you tempt the audience to see your film, Road to Yesterday?
Yes, we have all seen lots of great love stories on screen, no doubt about it, and I can guaranty you all, it’s like nothing you have ever encountered, it’s defiantly a journey and a journey that will awaken majority of us in any kind of relationships around the world and open our eyes to a whole other side of many relationships in front of you. And will defiantly put the spark back in romance and the idea of deeply appreciating each other.
Speaking of premieres, how do you feel when you watch for the first time a movie you’ve worked and played for?
I have to confess I have never watched myself on big screen or TV until a few months ago starting with an award winning film I shot in Rwanda many years ago, called “Sometimes in April”. It’s a true story and a gruesome tale about the atrocity that happen in Rwandan 94 when about a million Tutsis where slaughtered within a month. It was crazy and after the film I couldn’t watch myself even at the primmer in New York and Los Angeles, though I attended the red carpets I wouldn’t watch the film I would slip out of the cinema once it started, so this has been really my first year in my 25 years or so many years in the business I have been forced to seat and watch my work. And to be honest, I have to say it’s like watching another person, it’s not as scary as I thought, it’s really someone else am watching and not me, it’s a great thing that I can seat now and watch both films like everyone else and go through the honest emotions like everyone else and see it exactly like everyone else without judging or criticizing myself or the film and am grateful for that. Because it’s sad when I hear actors and people criticize themselves and their work.
How hard was it for you to advance from fashion model to acting?
It was a very easy transition as on many occasions the Top fashion photographers like Nick Knight, Greg Gorman, Aldo Fallai, Gian Paolo Barbieri and many other great photographers around the world that I have been very fortunate to have worked with were always stopping in the middle of the shoots and saying that I needed to go into film and television cause they saw the things in me that people are now seeing today in me, so the transition was very easy as I was also studying drama during that period as a model. And the passion and fire was always brewing beneath so it was just a matter of time and the right project. Also, in between modeling I was shooting and booking endless TV commercials around the world which prepared me later on for the screen, which was around the same time I landed my first proper TV gig, The Adventures of Sinbad.
Speaking about fashion and your jewelry brand, with what part of you would you relate the products from Oris Erhuero Couture? Do they come with a story behind?
The story behind my brand is quiet simple and a very natural progression that was born through my Milan and Paris modeling days. As I am a fashion fanatic and love dressing and styling my friends and family as I picked up a little course here and there in design and spend quiet a lot of my spare time studying fashion designs and still, till this day, I do when I have time, as I like to learn. Plus it helped me that I was up close in person with a lot of designers in their private studio as they were putting things together for the season ahead and I got to see firsthand ideas and everything before the world saw it. They would always invite me to experiment and put things together, until years later in Los Angeles, I was introduced to major jewelry designer called Chris Aire, a fellow African too, who has designed stuff for almost every major celebrity on the planet Earth. He took me on as one of his top sales assistant and from there on it was history and has been a serious hubby and something I really enjoy doing, until when I moved to London recently to be based here in Europe I was encouraged to start my collection and brand, so this is how “Oris Erhuero Couture” started. I was commissioned to make stuff for the royal family of Saudi Arabia and it’s been nonstop ever since I have lots of couples who commission me to do their engagement rings, wedding rings and stuff. And so far so good it’s growing, am also working on watches at the moment and taking it one day at time as film is still my major focus.
What’s the best way, for a gentleman, to approach pieces of jewelry in his outfit, in your opinion?
In my opinion, a gentleman must keep it very simple and know exactly what he wants. I would suggest that first and foremost find out their birth stone which can help with rings such as the pinky rings, and their cuff links, as I do a lot of cuff links and have a great line for men coming out. But also I would always ask the man for what occasion he wants to be dressed for and based on that anyone should be able to dress them with exactly what will carry the occasion. But no jewelry should ever over shadow any man, it should only add to your character. But a man’s charisma and personality and attitude towards himself as well as others should be the real jewel, it should be the one thing everyone sees first before the car, the watch and the fancy apartment and my jewelry.
Which do you consider to be the top 5 rules for the perfect gentleman?
A good dancer
A good listener
A good lover
What are your beliefs?
I am practicing Nichiren Buddhist in associated with the sgi soka Gakkai international meaning value creating society, it’s a lay Buddhist organization that promotes the teaching of the Buddhist monk Nichiren Daishonin 1222-1282 he established the chanting of NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO to the object of Devotion as the universal practice for attaining enlightment right where we are this instant, as well as to promote peace and happiness and create value in all of our under takings in life.
Any great words of wisdom you would like to share with us at this time.
Yes, absolutely. I have something by my mentor I would love to share with those that may be reading this magazine today.
“If you want to build a happy life, you have to give careful thought to the foundation. Happiness certainly cannot be secured on appearances or affectation. Happiness comes down to the inner state of our life at a given moment.”
By my Mentor Daisaku Ikeda
Interview published on trendprivemagazine.com