TBB Talks … The Mosquito Coast With Actor Ariyon Bakare

Ariyon Bakare currently stars in Apple Tv+ series The Mosquito Coast

The series follows a brilliant inventor and stubborn idealist who uproots his family for a dangerous quest through Mexico to flee the U.S. government and find safety.

Most recently he has been noted for his performance as Lord Boreal in the BBC/HBO production of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Also, returning for a second series is Amazon Prime’s fantasy-noir drama Carnival Row which saw him star as Darius. Additionally, Ariyon is also one of the main voice cast in The Amazing Maurice which was released on Sky Cinema on the 16th December.

We spoke to Ariyon about Mosquito Coast and his career so far

Please introduce yourself …

Hi My name is Ariyon Bakare. I was born in the UK. Nigerian/Yoruba heritage.

A word or sentence that best describes your life right now …

If you don’t like something change it, if you can’t change it, change your attitude, Maya Angelou.

Tell us about your latest project The Mosquito Coast

The Mosquito Coast follows the dangerous journey of Allie Fox, a brilliant inventor and stubborn idealist, who uproots his family on a dangerous quest to find refuge from the U.S. government, cartels and hitmen. This season, the Fox family venture deep into the Guatemalan jungle to meet up with an old friend and her community of refugees and an old friend from the past.

The show is in its second season, and you play the new character Richard Beaumont, what is his role in the grand scheme of things?

Richard Beaumont is an environmental activist, wealthy, well-educated, well-mannered and charming who has committed his life to direct action in favour of environmental causes. That commitment takes him down an ever-darker path that leads to the embrace of outright terrorism.

Ariyon Bakare as Richard Beaumont in Mosquito Coast

Was it challenging joining the cast in the second series, with other characters already fleshed out, does it make the journey of developing your character easier or harder and in what ways?

Joining any show is a hard task in any circumstances. There is a tone to the show that you have to hit. With MC there was so much information out there, with the book, the film and the first season. As I was already a fan of the show and after long talks with Neil Cross (Luther) the showrunner, I was able to hit the ground running. That, added to a cast who were so welcoming, made life a little easier for me to drop right in.

What was it like shooting on location in the Mexican Jungle?

Mexico has always had a place in my heart. I’ve travelled intensively around the country in many variations of my life so to work there was a joy. The best part was working with such a talented crew who made each day special.

Highs, lows, solutions (tell us the high points, any obstacles to getting the film completed and how you resolved the obstacles) …

Believe it, or not the main obstacle was the heat and reminding yourself that you’re working and not on holiday. Then there are the mosquitoes and spiders, which unfortunately I had run-ins with. Black widow spider bites are not fun in any way.

Which scene or moment best defined why you worked on the series?

I had a scene with Gabriel Bateman who plays Charlie Fox. It was a scene that had many changes and was hard to tackle the tone of, but in the end, we got there.

Ariyon Bakare as Richard Beaumont in Mosquito Coast

In my opinion, you are up there with the best of British talented actors and have had a rather successful career. You obviously have a knack for choosing the right roles to that advance your career, what is your process, what is it about a role that makes you say yes?

In the early days, I took whatever role that was on offer. Luckily for me, I landed some of my best roles to date. Now, I’m into finding roles that truly let me express a side of myself that I may not be able to express in life. Now I look at the structure, story and a character’s journey. One is only as good as the company it keeps, I try to remind myself of that daily, so I look out for good writers, a good crew and working with great passionate actors.

You’ve tucked a few projects under your belt this year – Crossfire, Karen Pirie, Reflection (short), The Amazing Maurice (voice) and of course The Mosquito Coast. They are all very different projects, and I am sure all tap into different sides of your skills as an actor. How do you manage it all?

I worked quite a bit during the pandemic, I took it as a time to embrace more challenging roles; Roles that I had never played before. Comedies, crime dramas and psychological dramas. I love doing fantasy and sci-fi. Shows like Karen Pirie, Reflection and The Amazing Maurice animation just add another bow to my string. I never like to play it safe.

Your career spans over three decades so you have seen the changes and developments of the industry, what is this moment in time like for you as a black creative?

There’s a positive move to make things better. There’s a lot more work to be done. Whereas before it was stagnated, stuck and seemingly an immovable obstacle now there’s a motion, a sway towards a more culturally diverse pool of talent.

Ariyon Bakare as Darktan in The Amazing Maurice – Image: Sky TV

What’s your current plan B? (if it all goes wrong what’s the plan?)

There is no plan B, just make plan A better.

A favourite book you have in your collection?

I’m a huge James Baldwin fan – I was given a first edition of James Baldwin’s fourth novel Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone. I’d love to play Leo Proudhammer on screen or on stage.

A song/album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date?

Frank Ocean – Orange

The last thing you saw on stage?

The Crucible at the National Theatre

What’s made you sad, mad, and glad this week?

Myself.

Celebrate someone else (who do you rate right now?)

There are so many actors who are killing it right now. I love SOPE DIRISU! I also watched a show called The Bear on Disney+, the young actress blew me away. Ayo Edibiri.

Celebrate yourself … (make us proud of you)

The hope is to live in a state of gratitude. Constantly learning and not being so hard on myself when I make a mistake because each mistake is just a lesson for success.

Where can we find you / watch The Mosquito Coast?

You can find Mosquito Coast on Apple TV+. I also voice Noir-Mat in The Amazing Maurice on Sky Cinema and Now TV.


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