Paapa Essiedu


(L) Shirt by VALENTINO. (R) Top & jacket by WHISTLES.

If you could trade all of your knowledge of Shakespeare’s works for the chance to experience reading/ performing Hamlet again for the first time, would you?
I don’t profess to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Shakespeare anyway but there are few feelings that can match the excitement of performing Hamlet for the first time. It’s a strange mix of terror and exhilaration. Wouldn’t swap it for anything.

If you could pick any other Shakespeare character to play who would you pick and why?
I’d love to play Iago [from Othello] one day. His mind works in a genius way similarly to Hamlet – wit, speed of thought, charisma. I think he’s great.

Who do you think would be more interesting to play in ongoing performances, James Bond or Sherlock Holmes?
Everyone wants to play James Bond don’t they? Fast cars, beautiful women and cool gadgets… I’d consider it.

Do you have a standard routine you do during the intermission to stay in character, to relax, to kill time?
I get a tattoo drawn onto my chest in the interval for the second half, so I just chill with the makeup girls and stick some big tunes on Spotify. We’re going through a northern soul phase at the moment…

What was the most challenging character or performance of a character in your career?
Obviously Hamlet is pretty tough in terms of the size of the part and the complexity of his thoughts, but actually the character I’ve found most difficult was a tiny part I played in Nicholas Nickleby at drama school. He was called Young Wackford and he was this 8 year old terror child from Yorkshire who wore a sailor suit all day every day and got his kicks out of beating the other kids at his dad’s school. I did some bad acting in that play. Real bad.

Where is your ideal place to sit in the audience when you see a film or watch a theatre performance?
My eyesight is abysmal so I usually sit fairly close to the front.

Do you have a favourite theatre to perform in?
The Swan stage at the RSC is pretty awesome. The acoustics are so good – you can basically whisper and still be heard.


(L) Jacket by TOMAS MAIER. Top by SUNSPEL. Trousers by VALENTINO. (R) Shirt by VALENTINO.

If you could learn any other language to use for performing and playing characters, what language would you pick?
French. It’s much sexier than English.

What urban legend did you have the most belief or curiosity about growing up?
Remember when everyone was saying the Keenan and Kel had died? We mourned real hard for those guys…

What non-Shakespearean play would you like to have a part in the most?
I love Dennis Kelly plays. He combines the domestic with the epic like no one else.

If you could have a Google Street Maps style perspective of any time/ place in history, when and where would you pick?
Maybe late 60’s America. Would’ve love to have seen Martin Luther King speak in the flesh.

Desert Island type scenario, you can either have 100 movies and 100 books (of your choosing) or two random people are also stranded on the island with you. Which option would you prefer?
The two people. We’d make lots of movies and write lots of books.

What chore did you hate doing the most growing up?
Mowing the lawn. I was a proper scrawny kid and the lawnmower was fucking huge.

Would you rather get a dollar for every time someone mispronounced or misspelt your name, or book a job with your favourite living director?
Haha. I’ve given up on correcting the misspellings – it’s just funny now. Give me Scorcese any day.

What is the last song you added to your music library?
Skepta’s new album is all I’m listening to right now. Grime is back 😉

Want more? Watch our behind-the-scenes film.

Paapa Essiedu can be seen in Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon until August 13. It will be broadcast live to UK cinemas and select countries worldwide on June 8.

As told to Paul Vaughan for TPJ
Creative Director & Photographer: Jessie Craig
Stylist: Christopher Preston
Grooming: Jennie Roberts using Ojon & Origins


1 Comment

  1. Otha Pae
    October 20, 2016 / 12:32 am

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