Interview: Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù Talks ‘Gangs of London’, The Intense Fight Choreography & More
Have you been watching Gangs of London on AMC? If not, you should be!
Gangs of London tells the story of a city being torn apart by the turbulent power struggles of the international gangs that control it and the sudden power vacuum that’s created when the head of London’s most powerful crime family is assassinated. The series stars Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù (Humans), Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders), Colm Meaney (Star Trek), Lucian Msamati (His Dark Materials), Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones) Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You) and Pippa Bennett-Warner (Harlots).
Earlier this month, I had the chance to chat with Dìrísù (who plays Elliot Finch). During our conversation, we spoke about what it was like for him to see the show come to America, the intense fight choreography and working with Gareth Evans. We also discuss the heightened version of London in this show and what it’s like playing a character who is isolated a lot of the times.
Check out the interview below:
How does it feel now that this it is finally being seen by people in North America?
Dìrísù: I mean, I was gutted when I found you guys weren’t able to see at the same time as the UK audience was, especially with big productions like Game of Thrones, for instance, they could be doing it like showing the States on Sunday and then showing it in the UK on Monday, and everyone gets really excited about it at the same time. It is super flattering. You know, I’m so excited that people are so desperate to see it and now that they’re finally going to get to be able to, I’m really excited to share it to the rest of the world.
Can you tease anything about your character without spoiling anything of course?
Dìrísù: He is a nobody who wants to become a somebody and must find a purpose in his life and he is willing to run through walls or run through people who are stopping him from achieving his dream. I think he has a deep gratitude. He’s a great person to have on your side and a very difficult as enemy as well.
I was watching the first episode and was already zoned in, but when we got to the last six or seven minutes it escalated from zero to 100 real quick! Can you talk about that fight scene and what it was like shooting the fight scenes in general?
Dìrísù: Gareth Evans is a genius as far as I’m concerned. You definitely see that with his two Raid films. Even in his movie Apostle the action was excellent. And the way that he and Matt Flattery (his director of photography) work together is incredible because you see the fight. You see almost everything, in a way. There’s some fights in other films where you get a feeling of the fight more than you actually get to see it, and the way they tell the story of the fight is just masterful.
So to have an opportunity to be a part of that process was an absolute blessing. It was exciting even before I got into pre-production and training. I feel like I’ve kind’ve been spoiled by it now because I’ll watch other fight scenes and be like, ‘Oh, Garth would’ve done it so differently.’ I remember when we were on-set shooing, and the action choreographer, Chris Webb, who I worked with a lot said, ‘This fight scene in episode three is going to be the best fight scene in British TV.’
Now, I can’t speak to American TV ’cause I know you guys have been setting the standards for a lot of this stuff, but hopefully we have something that will live up to American audience as well.
I’ve got to say, this action felt like a TV show version of John Wick.
Dìrísù: I love that so much! I just really appreciate what Chad and Joe are doing in that role of their creative. Big fan of them.
The setting and everything feels like a heightened version of London. So what was it like having to get into the mindset of your character and bringing out the complexities within him?
Dìrísù: So yeah, I did a lot of work in sort of figuring out who he is and how it really affects your mental state, the mental welfare and affects the relationships you have with people as well. You know, there was a period of time when shooting, Elliot doesn’t get to converse with his family members and doesn’t get to speak to his dad a lot because of what he’s doing. It was strange because I found myself actually distancing myself from my own father and he was like, ‘Why are you not talking to me? What’s wrong?’ and I was like, ‘It’s not on purpose I’m just so into this character.’
I think that’s a pretty big thing for sure – like isolated, who can he trust who can even rely on? He has to do a lot of stuff himself because of the nature of his work. So it was really good to have friends around me that I can fall back on.
How has COVID in general affected your process as an actor and just what have you been doing in your free time to kind of combat all that’s going on?
Dìrísù: We’ve not been able to work as much. I think the biggest things is that I’ve been given time for reflection and a lot of time to remember that whilst I love acting in a profession, as a human being, what’s been going on in the world has given me time to stop and remember those things and give important dates and use my voice in different ways. I hope not just in terms of entertaining but to educate, to be an activist as well. It’s really important to be well-rounded because then you have more life experience to draw on to be passionate about, and that’ll come out in your work.
I’ve also been watching a lot of anime and it’s just a totally different way of telling fantastical stories in different ways. And because a lot of the material comes from the Manga, it’s cool to see how they tease stuff at the beginning for it to come back in a later issue. It’s just complete storytelling. It’s nuanced and delicate and thrilling.
Well, I want to say thank you so much for giving me some of your time. I definitely have to speak to you again once I finish the season because after just seeing the first few episodes, I’m fully in. I can’t wait to get season two immediately! So, I definitely got to talk to you again about spoilers man.
Dìrísù: Definitely got to talk spoilers!
Thank you again! Stay safe, sir.