For many actors, jobs can sometimes collide – one role leading directly into another, sometimes across the other end of the storytelling spectrum. And with the rapid rise of Kingsley Ben-Adir, quickly becoming one of the most in-demand actors out there, the actor found himself straddling two castle different projects at the same time. One was a small but scene-stealing role in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, playing one of Ryan Gosling’s fellow Kens – always doing something hilarious and unexpected in the background of Barbie Land. But while he was turning plastic for that film, he was also prepping the role of a lifetime: the not-inconsiderable task of playing reggae icon Bob Marley.
Speaking to Empire about the making of upcoming biopic Bob Marley: One Love, Ben-Adir revealed he had his own dedicated area on the Barbie set, where he could de-Ken and get into the mindset of Marley: the “Bob station”, as he calls it. “You know behind the slide, in the room where the Kens watch The Godfather? I had a little desk in there which I’d sit between takes, practising the patois,” the actor reveals. “I was with Ryan [Gosling] the other day, and he said, ‘You were on a mad one, bruv! One minute you were Basketball Ken, the next you were Mr Redemption Song!’ I don’t think he’d experienced anything like it.”
Director Reinaldo Marcus Green was stunned by the lengths Ben-Adir went to to capture the spirit of Bob Marley. “Man, he went on a relentless pursuit of who Bob was,” the filmmaker says. “He went off the deep in search of him.” But for the actor, that was the only choice – speaking to many of Marley’s collaborators, and travelling to Jamaica to get into the mindset. “There’s not a road in that country that doesn’t have a picture of the man on some kind of mural. Bob is everywhere,” Ben-Adir says. “I think everybody knew we were on sacred ground with Bob. I’ve never been reminded more by people not to fuck something up more than on this movie. ‘Hey, you’re doing Bob Marley? Do not fuck it up!’” With all that work at the Bob station, we’re sure every little thing is gonna be alright.