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THE BIG INTERVIEW: FTN interviews Lost, Hotel Rwanda and Black Sails star Hakeem Kae-Kazim

June 21st, 2014 by Marc Comments

photo by Blinkit Photography

Actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim, classically trained in the UK at the highly regarded Bristol Old Vic and soon after graduation was invited to join the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Hakeem’s list of impressive credits include Pirates of the Caribbean III, Lost, Cane with Jimmy Smits, Law & Order: SVU with Mariska Hargitay, The Triangle with Sam Neill, The Librarian with Gabrielle Anwar, X-Men: Wolverine with Hugh Jackman, The 4th Kind alongside Milla Jovovich and Darfur with Billy Zane. Hakeem is often recognized for his recurring role as Colonel Dubaku, through which he wowed audiences with his stunning performance in 24’s’ Season 7, and in the prequel movie Redemption.

Hakeem both produced and starred in Black November with Mickey Rourke and Kim Bassinger, as well as the award winning film Man on Ground and Last Flight to Abuja. His distinctive voice has also been shared in many popular video games including Halo, Call of Duty and The Bourne Conspiracy. Hakeem is well loved for his TV work, which recently has included many primetime shows including Human Target, Criminal Minds, NAVY NCIS, Law and Order, Cobert Affairs and Strike Back. Hakeem’s latest films Half of a Yellow Sun and A Chance of Rain, are set to be released soon and his role as Mr Scott in Michael Bay’s exciting and much awaited new series Black Sails with be premiering in 2014.

FTN: When did you first become interested in acting? What were your memories and experiences in being accepted in for training at The Old Vic and The Royal Shakespeare Company?

HKK: I first became seriously interested in acting when I got into the National Youth Theatre at the age of 14. The memories and experiences I have are that I was very lucky that I had a choice of which drama school I wanted to go to, as I was accepted by all my choices, which was very humbling! On leaving my training, I was offered a space at RSC straight away, which was very exciting.

FTN: You have starred in a number of high profile blockbusters and critically acclaimed dramatic films with Hotel Rwanda being one of the most critically acclaimed dramas in recent years. What was it like to make this incredible film and did you think it would be the success it became?

HKK: No, I didn’t know it was going to have the success it did, but it was a very interesting and traumatic film. The research I did for the film and the fact that we had Rwandan refugees on set had a great impact on me, so I hoped that it would be well received by the viewers– which it was! I felt the film really brought back the impact of what was happening at that time.

FTN: You are currently on the small screen as Mr Scott in Michael Bay’s Black Sails. Can you tell us a little bit about your character and also the main premise of the show?

HKK: The show is set in 17th/18th Century and is based on the world of Pirates just before Britain came in and took over. It was around the ‘coming of the new world’.

Without revealing too much, Mr Scott is an ex-slave, who now works for his old master out of choice. His job is to cents the goods from pirates and to ensure his master’s operation runs smoothly along side his ex-slave master’s daughter, Eleanor.

FTN: Michael Bay is a well renowned film Director of such large scale blockbusters as The Transformers movies, Pearl Harbour and  The Rock. What is it like to work on one of his productions?

HKK: Fantastic! I’m very lucky! It’s a really high level and high quality production and it’s amazing to be a part of it. It’s a production where no expense is spared.

FTN: Black Sails is set during the heyday of the Pirates which mixes fictional characters with real-life notorious pirates. Did you have to do any research into your role of Mr Scott prior to filming?

HKK: Yeah, I did a bunch of research and from that I found that at least 40% of pirates at that time were from African Origin, which I found very interesting. After all my research, I decided to base my character, Mr Scott, around Black Caesar, who was a pirate around that time and worked along side the well known Black Beard, but eventually was caught and hung by the British.

“I decided to base my character, Mr Scott, around Black Caesar, who was a pirate around that time and worked along side the well known Black Beard”

FTN: Black Sails features some wonderful scenic locations, not to mention the tall sail pirate ships. What was it like filming in these locations and sets and did you have any difficulties to overcome, like seasickness or walking the plank?

HKK: I don’t want to give too much away, but there was no seasickness and the location in which we filmed was beautiful and a fantastic experience!

FTN:  Black Sails also features some brilliant action and fighting scenes. Did you have to undergo any training in the use of swords and flintlock rifles and pistols?

HKK: Yeah, we had extensive training on weapons and we had a great stunt and fight coordinating team that put us in our places!

“I’m also working with a charity at the moment, called Africa 2.0. It’s a charity that helps to raise leadership standards on the continent, pulling in youths from all over the country to come up with ideas to improve standards in Africa.”

FTN: Aside from the screening of Black Sails on television, are there any other future projects that you are working on that you can tell us about?

HKK: I am acting in a film that will be coming out soon called Daylight’s End. I am also in the process of producing a film called Yefon, which is about a young girl who lives in an African Village where they don’t believe in female education, but she goes against the grain and gets an education for herself. It is set to be released in 2015.

I’m also working with a charity at the moment, called Africa 2.0. It’s a charity that helps to raise leadership standards on the continent, pulling in youths from all over the country to come up with ideas to improve standards in Africa.

FTN: If you had the chance of going back in time, is there any particular pirate you would join to plunder the high seas?

HKK: I would love to see what Black Caesar was all about!

FTN: And finally, Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?

HKK: That’s difficult! I would say the first trilogy of Lord of the Rings and then any of the Star Wars! To be honest that’s a hard question because I love both!

Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….