Ariyon Bakare is known mainly for his work in British television, but recently has started to make a name for himself in Hollywood as well, most recently appearing as Blue Four in Rogue One and as Solomon in the FX series Tyrant. In Sony’s film Life, Bakare is Hugh Derry who is the “father” to the discovered alien life form.
Screen Rant spoke with Ariyon at SXSW about his character Hugh, how terrified he is of the possibilities of aliens life forms actually existing, and what it was like making such a serious film with on set jokers like Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal.
First of all I have – I enjoyed this film thoroughly.
Ariyon Bakare: Oh I’m so glad.
It was terrifying.
Ariyon Bakare: Really?
Ariyon Bakare: Could you show me your scream face?
My . . . yeah . . .
Ariyon Bakare: Yeah, come on.
*Gasps and looks awkwardly scared*
Ariyon Bakare: OOOHHHHH!
That was terrible, that was bad.
Ariyon Bakare: That, that . . . that . . . no, don’t do that. Don’t ever do that again.
*LAUGHING* Thank you.
Ariyon Bakare: Work on it.
That’s why they hired you man, you’re the pro. What was it about this story that really drew you, drew your attention?
Ariyon Bakare: Oh, so many things. The script was an amazing script, Rhett and Paul did an amazing job. When you read that dialogue, it just jumps.
Ariyon Bakare: Really quickly and they’ve got a quality where they they make you feel as if your actually playing the part while you’re reading it *Laughs* So, I’m reading it and I forget about, I forgot about Hugh, I was thinking about all the other characters, and I think, ‘well if I’ve got that emotional connection with all the characters already, I already know this is a great script’.
How much of uh, how much of Hugh did you bring to the film, that wasn’t on the page?
Ariyon Bakare: Quite a bit, the whole idea of him bering parental, um, the, I don’t wanna give off spoiler alerts here so . . .
Spoiler alerts *laughs*
Ariyon Bakare: So I don’t – Spoiler alert, spoiler alert, you know, if you’re watching this, don’t . . . listen – *laughs* um, like in the moments when he’s, his connection is the fact that he wants to protect Calvin and . . . yeah, there’s so much. I brought a lot of me into it. That, you know, I didn’t try to go to far from myself.
You know, Calvin’s the most terrifying thing I’ve seen on screen in a very long time.
Ariyon Bakare: Why do you say that?
Because . . . cause this is like my nightmare, like this is exactly how I think aliens would come down and then . . .
Ariyon Bakare: So then, in your sleep you . . .
It’s like Rhett and Paul pulled out my nightmare from my brain and put it on screen.
Ariyon Bakare: Really?
Yeah, uh . . .
Ariyon Bakare: I don’t wanna be in your brain. . . *Laughs*
Well, you kind of are now because you’re Calvin’s father.
Ariyon Bakare: I am Calvin’s father, I am so Calvin’s father.
So, What’s going on in Hugh’s head when things go crazy?
Ariyon Bakare: It’s like having a teenager who goes crazy in your house as you, and you know that’s your son, and he’s run off, he’s taking drugs, he’s killing a thousand people . . . *laughs* you think, ‘oh but I love him’ but no, your comments won’t quite do, it’s kind of like ‘yeah’ . . .I don’t know, you kind of protect, you want to protect your child…
Ariyon Bakare: And see if you can kind of contain it and try and teach it another way but, in the end, yeah, you gotta die.
Yeah. I mean, I think it’s also the fact that I felt claustrophobic cause it’s like . . .
Ariyon Bakare: Yeah.
It’s like an Escape Room.
Ariyon Bakare: Very, we felt claustrophobic.
That you can’t get out of, yeah.
Ariyon Bakare: We, we felt claustrophobic and there’s some scenes and you know, I’m sure Danny’s got so many scenes where, where we’re really of and it’s hot, you know we’re on that set, it’s really hot, you can feel the heat.
Ariyon Bakare: We were all given soundscapes of the actual, um, ISS, and I would play that in my room every single day so that I could just get a sense of it so when we’re there, we knew exactly what it’d sound like. You know, the cameras were never inside, they were always outside of us, so everything we could see, or touch, was real, we were just in it.
This film’s extremely intense as well
Ariyon Bakare: Yes.
I heard that it wasn’t so intense on set though, with Ryan, and Rebecca, and Jake.
Ariyon Bakare: I love it how everyone like thinks they are the biggest jokers, they are really, they are really really funny actually, yeah, Ryan brings a sense of jovial quality that just rubs off on everyone, it trickles down *laughing*
Does it really?
Ariyon Bakare: Yeah, but then he’s got ability to just change and be the wisest person you could ever meet.
Ariyon Bakare: He’s really intelligent . . .
I figured as much.
Ariyon Bakare: He made me learn a word . . . I can’t, I’m not gonna say it cause I won’t remember it. The longest word in history, it takes about 5 hours to . . .
Ariyon Bakare: It does.
The longest word in history?
Ariyon Bakare: Yes, it takes about 5 hours to pronounce.
**Editor’s Note** – From Wikipedia: The longest word in any of the major English language dictionaries is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, a word that refers to a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano; medically, it is the same as silicosis.
Ariyon Bakare: But, he can say it, get him to say it.
I heard that he’s really, he’s going crazy today. Do you believe that aliens, that we’re close to finding alien life? And if so –
Ariyon Bakare: I don’t know if we’re close to it but, I know, I believe that there is alien life out there.
Does it frighten you?
Ariyon Bakare: I – uh . . .
Now after making this film? Cause it does me.
Ariyon Bakare: This is our version of it so, it doesn’t frighten me, it, I’m in awe of, I’m like Hugh, I’m actually would like, I would probably like to contain Calvin and study more and see what it would become, rather than just it being something, I just wanna find out more.