We spoke to Arnold Oceng at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) about A United Kingdom, in which he appears alongside David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike.
What aspects of A United Kingdom do you think highlight contemporary society’s growth with respect to race since the time at which it is set as well as its invariance?
The main aspect highlighted which shows growth in contemporary society in my view is that we as people are more diverse and multi-cultural, and this is mirrored and shown by the increase of people with mixed heritage and ethnicities. Seretse and Ruth embody true love and personify the idea that love is blind and sees no colour.
What did you learn that stands out (or what surprised you) the most over the course of your work on A United Kingdom?
How determined, down to earth, real, hardworking and phenomenal Amma Asante is. She’s a real go-getter and a winner which is why I always call her a phenomenal woman.
What has proven to be the most complex aspect of the film to try to explain or describe?
The political side of the story is difficult to explain and describe, only because I still find it hard to understand how the British Government got away with so much after all the injustice served out to Seretse and the people of Botswana.
What was the most challenging and/ or rewarding part of the production?
Being able to work on set and act alongside amazing actors such as David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike has definitely been one of the highlights of my year, it’s been very rewarding. I was literally a sponge on set trying to soak up and absorb all their knowledge and skill.
What’s a small detail about the film or your character therein that the audience may not notice but is very important to you?
Well my character at first may seem like he has a problem with the couple being in love/ together, but he is just being a caring friend because he is fully aware of the implications this could have on Seretse and his people. He is just worried for his friend because he cares and knows the trouble this could cause.
If you could attend one screening at TIFF this year apart from your own, which screening would you pick?
Defo Moonlight and La La Land, you can’t go wrong with Ryan Gosling.
As told to Paul Vaughan for TPJ
Photographer: Jessie Craig