Eye on Film: David Oyelowo On A United Kingdom

Actor David Oyelowo is a world-renowned actor who has appeared in such offerings as Selma, Jack Reacher and Middle of Nowhere. In his new lead role in the film A United Kingdom, he plays Sir Seretse Khama, Prince of Bechuanaland, modern day Botswana.

Though the film takes place during some very tenuous, revolutionary times for the African country, much of the primary focus on the story is his interracial relationship with Ruth Williams, portrayed by actress Rosamund Pike (who also starred with Oyelowo in Jack Reacher), an eccentric British woman who he eventually marries.

Recently, Oyelowo was at a roundtable of journalists to publicize the film, which premiered today. As when I’ve interviewed him in the past, his answers are very honest and introspective, placing heavy emphasis on the power of love to reconcile wrongs.

The film takes place in 1940 and so much of the story deals with overcoming racism, both in the personal lives of the two leads and from an institutional standpoint, as well via colonialism. It was only right that he was asked about the story’s contemporary relevance.

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“I think anyone watching the news now can see that it’s a very complicated time. It’s overwhelming, is the truth of the matter,” said Oyelowo. “But, I do truly believe the antidote to all this is quite simple, it’s love. When you watch a film like A United Kingdom, you see love in action. You can see that it does have the power to overcome political obstacles and tribal obstacles and familial obstacles.”

“I think that if we as a people can basically decide ‘Okay, regardless of political agendas, religious agendas, and everything out there that’s trying to divide us, if love is what we will lead with I don’t think any government, any insidious agenda, can overcome that. Prejudice is born out of fear and fear of that which is other than you is what we are dealing with.”

”Everything that we are dealing with, from the rise of nationalism to the incredibly contentious election we’ve just had and the byproducts of it are all to do with, ‘I’m right, you’re wrong. You’re different than me and my color, my religion is more right than yours.’ But if you’re coming from a place of sacrificial love, a place of ‘How can I be help? How can I be gracious in the face of your seeming hate’, I think then we stand a chance.”

Written by uber slept-on director Amma Asante (Belle), A United Kingdom is about love, but it is also about resilience and strength as well. But Oyelowo conceded that even such a quality offering may not draw crowds to the theater. However, but he doesn’t seem to mind that.  The only thing that matters is doing great work.

“Let”s be honest, a lot of people’s first introduction to A United Kingdom will be on the small screen. We hope that we have made an epic movie. The English Patient was the model for what I wanted A United Kingdom to feel like. But you hope you’re making a film where anyone watching it anywhere will get something from it.”

Based upon the screenplay written by Guy Hibbert, A United Kingdom is in theaters nationwide. 

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