Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: Biography, Age, Movies, Family & Career
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (/ˌædeɪˈwɑːleɪ
Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s feature directorial debut, Farming wrapped production in 2017 and had its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
Early life and education
Akinnuoye-Agbaje was born in Islington, London, to Nigerian parents of Yoruba origin, who were students in the UK. When he was six weeks old, his biological parents gave him up to a white working-class family in Tilbury, Essex. This was a common practice in this era among Nigerian families when parents sent young children to live in the UK with white foster parents in the hopes their children would have better lives. His foster parents had at least ten African children, including Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s two sisters, living in their house at certain points. His foster father made a living as a lorry driver and struggled to support the family financially.
When he was eight years old, his biological parents brought him back to Nigeria but, as he was unable to speak the Yoruba language and forbidden by his parents to speak English, he was returned to Tilbury shortly thereafter. The brief exposure to Nigeria left him struggling to reconcile his heritage with the distinctly British culture and environment he was raised in. As a young boy, facing a cultural identity crisis, he joined a local skinhead gang in order to escape racial persecution at their hands. At 16 years old, having become a thief, his foster parents sent him to a boarding school in Surrey where he ultimately attempted suicide before coming to terms with his background and turning his life around.
He went on to earn a Law degree from King’s College London and a Masters in Law from the University of London International Programme. While a university student, Akinnuoye-Agbaje worked in a clothes shop where he was introduced to the world of modelling.
Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s modelling career led him to Hollywood, where he began his acting career with a 1995 role in Congo.
His best known acting roles have been as the imposing convict Simon Adebisi in the 1990s HBO prison series Oz and as Mr Eko on ABC’s survivor drama Lost. Film roles include The Bourne Identity, in which he played a deposed African dictator, Hitu the police officer in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Lock-Nah in The Mummy Returns, and Heavy Duty in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. He was also featured in the video for singer-songwriter Grayson Hugh’s hit “Talk It Over”, which was in heavy rotation in 1989 on MTV and VH-1.
In 2009, Akinnuoye-Agbaje was in talks with Marvel Studios to play the superhero Black Panther in a proposed film of the same name. In an interview, he stated his excitement about the possibility, saying that “the timing is so right” for a black superhero, and “while I’m in my prime, this is the time… I’m going to keep knocking on their door.” In 2014 Marvel did announce a Black Panther film, though with Chadwick Boseman in the title role.
He guest-starred in the second episode of season 8 of Monk and played Derek Jameson in the 2011 film The Thing. He portrayed Kurse in the Marvel Studios film Thor: The Dark World. He portrayed the character Malko in the fifth season of Game of Thrones. In 2015 it was reported that Akinnuoye-Abaje voices the lead character of Bilal, a film about the life of Bilal Ibn Rabah set to be released in the second half of the year. In 2016, he co-starred in the DC Comics film Suicide Squad, as the Batman villain Killer Croc.
In 2012, Akinnuoye-Agbaje stated that he had been developing a film about his life story, which he also planned to direct. The film is called Farming, in reference to the practice of Nigerian parents “farming out” their children to white UK families. In May 2017, he announced that casting on the film had begun with Damson Idris in the lead role as Enitan, Kate Beckinsale playing his abusive, neglectful foster mother and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as his teacher and mentor.
Akinnuoye-Agbaje lives in Los Angeles. He is a Nichiren Buddhist and a member of the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist association.
Akinnuoye-Agbaje asked to be written off Lost, citing a desire to return to London after his parents’ deaths and to direct a film there.
|1995||Congo||Kahega||Frank Marshall||Credited as Adewalé|
|1995||Delta of Venus||The Clairvoyant||Zalman King|
|1995||Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls||Hitu||Steve Oedekerk|
|1996||The Deadly Voyage||Emmanuel||John Mackenzie|
|2001||The Mummy Returns||Lock-Nah||Stephen Sommers|
|2001||Lip Service||Sebastion||Shawn Schepps|
|2002||The Bourne Identity||Nykwana Wombosi||Doug Liman|
|2004||Unstoppable||Agent Junod||David Carson|
|2005||The Mistress of Spices||Kwesi||Paul Mayeda Berges|
|2005||On the One (Preaching to the Choir)||Bull Sharky||Charles Randolph-Wright|
|2005||Get Rich or Die Tryin’||Majestic||Jim Sheridan|
|2009||G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra||Heavy Duty||Stephen Sommers|
|2010||Faster||The Evangelist||George Tillman, Jr.|
|2011||Killer Elite||The Agent||Gary McKendry|
|2011||The Thing||Derek Jameson||Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.|
|2012||Best Laid Plans||Joseph||David Blair|
|2013||Bullet to the Head||Morel||Walter Hill|
|2013||Thor: The Dark World||Algrim the Strong / Kurse||Alan Taylor|
|2013||The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete||Pike||George Tillman, Jr.|
|2014||Pompeii||Atticus||Paul W.S. Anderson|
|2015||Trumbo||Virgil Brooks||Jay Roach||Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture|
|2015||Concussion||Dave Duerson||Peter Landesman|
|2016||Bilal||Bilal (voice)||Khurram Alavi|
|2016||Suicide Squad||Waylon Jones / Killer Croc||David Ayer|
|1994||Red Shoe Diaries||Davis Bateman||Episode: “Written Word”|
|1995||New York Undercover||Cliff Ramsey||Episode: “Downtown Girl”|
|1996||Screen Two||Emmanuel||Episode: “Deadly Voyage”|
|1997||20,000 Leagues Under the Sea||Cabe Attucks||2 episodes|
|1997||Cracker: Mind Over Murder||John Doe||Episode: “Madwoman”|
|1997||Pensacola: Wings of Gold||Ambassador Odeku||Episode: “Fallout”|
|1997–2000||Oz||Simon Adebisi||32 episodes
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
|1998||Linc’s||Winston Iwelu||Episode: “Gangsta Rap”|
|2000||Enslavement: The True Story of Fanny Kemble||Joe||Television movie|
|2005–2006||Lost||Mr Eko||21 episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television
|2009||Monk||Samuel Waingaya||Episode: “Mr Monk and the Foreign Man”|
|2011||Strike Back: Project Dawn||Tahir||2 episodes|
|2012||Hunted||Deacon Crane||8 episodes|
|2015||American Odyssey||Frank Majors||9 episodes|
|2015||Major Lazer||Major Lazer/Evil Lazer (voice)||11 episodes|
|2015||Game of Thrones||Malko||2 episodes|
|2017||Tangled: The Series||Xavier the Blacksmith (voice)||5 episodes|
|2017||Tour de Pharmacy||Olusegun Okorocha||Television movie|
|2017||Ten Days in the Valley||John Bird||10 episodes|
|2018||Watership Down||Vervain (voice)|
|2019||The Fix||Sevvy Johnson|
- “Talk It Over” – Grayson Hugh (1989)
- “Jealousy” – Pet Shop Boys (1991)
- “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” – En Vogue (1992)
- “Love No Limit” – Mary J. Blige (1993)
- “I Want It All Night Long” – Heather Hunter (1993)
- “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)” – Dawn Penn (1994)