Lime feature- Screen
'It is a slasher flick essentially that touches on a lot of different issues and a lot about friendship.
The talents of Hackney born actor Idris Elba are known the world over. Whether you know him as Stringer Bell from the Wire, one of the few men – other than Jay-Z – who have actually kissed Beyoncé, or his Golden Globe nominated performance as DCI John Luther in the BBC One drama Luther, his is a face and name that will have regularly made your acquaintance. However the 38-year-old Arsenal fan is not just an actor and throughout 2010 has been making a name for himself as an award winning executive producer.
His latest project is the teen slasher Suicide Kids written and directed by British director Arjun Rose and starring a cast who reads like a who's who of young British acting talent - many of whom have graduated from the Noel Clarke School of cinema.
Among the cast are Adam Deacon, Shanika Warren-Markland, 184.108.40.206, Kidulthood's Moony aka Femi Oyeniran and Clarke's on screen brother in Adulthood, Jacob Anderson. Also along for the ride are Shifty actor Jason Maza, my favourite Misfit, Robert Sheehan, Radio 1 DJ Reggie Yates, former So Solid crew member-turned-actor Ashley Walters and if that wasn't enough, making her feature film debut is Tulisa Contostavlos from N-Dubz.
The film follows the lives of seven principle characters that have all joined a suicide pack after their friend Amber (played by Tulisa) takes her own life. However just when they begin to have second thoughts about going all the way, a crazed psychopath begins knocking them off one by one. On one of London's many snow caped days I donned my ski coat, thermal socks and winter willies to bravely trek up to the set in Waterloo and during a break from filming I grabbed a few words with Shanika and Femi.
'It's a feature about young people', began Femi when I asked him how he would best describe the UK's answer to Scream, 'there are a lot of things intertwined into one with this film, but at the heart of it it's a slasher film than focuses around relationships and also the interaction...of the most unlikely people.'
'It is quite a serious topic but there is so much lightness and humour and some hilarious characters in it,' adds Shanika. 'It is a slasher flick essentially that touches on a lot of different issues and a lot about friendship.'
And how do your different characters fit into it all, I continue. 'I play Cain who is a guy who has difficulty with his family life. All the seven different characters have conflicts and my character is a gay, black guy. At the start of the movie you don't really know he is gay and then little things happen that gives hints that he is, up until he goes on this journey where he has a conflict with his dad and once he resolves it, he begins to talk openly about the fact that he is gay,' elaborates the British-Nigerian.
'It's not something that I have experienced personally, but there are a lot of black boys out there who are gay and find it difficult to tell that story and telling different people's story's, as an actor, is something you should do.'
So are you moving away from the characters we are more used to seeing you play in films like Adulthood and Kidulthood? 'Kidulthood and Adulthood, yeah but my character in Anuvahood [forthcoming film directed by Adam Deacon also scheduled for release in 2011] is very fun and with these two roles, I think I've had room to be fun.
Suicide Kids is completely different to Anuvahood, which was just full on comedy. It has been a fun past three months for me as I've been able to play completely different characters - which is what you want to do as a young actor.'
Shanika Warren-Markland stars in Suicide Kids'I play Ashley and she starts off in the beginning of the film, Arjun [Rose, the director] describes her as, if we had cheerleaders in the UK she would probably be one. She is sort of the pretty popular bubbly girl - on the surface anyway,' explains Shanika.
'She's in the popular crew but in the end, ends up becoming friends with people that she wouldn't normally become friends with due to the little pack they've got going on'
She sounds vastly different to the character you played in 220.127.116.11, 'She is a lot softer than Kerrys [Shanika's character in 18.104.22.168].
Kerrys is pretty much in everybody's face and probably did a lot of things without thinking; Ashley thinks things through quite a lot.' And is that what attracted you to the role? 'Yeah, but it is an ensemble piece and I was interested in seeing how that was going to work. It has been fun working with loads of talented people and making new friends.'
I go on to ask about what the atmosphere was like with so many young British familiar faces on set, 'Really good – we are all looking forward to going out tonight!' remarks Shanika with a smile, 'Some jobs you don't want to see people afterwards but we are like, 'when can we go out?!'
As our time draws to a close I finish by asking what is it about the film why people should come and see it when it is finally released, 'Because it's amazing and it's got the most exciting acting prospects in this country right now.
At least 75 per cent of the most exciting actors to come out in the past few years are in this movie,' Femi observes with a grin before Shanika rounds off, 'it will be a really entertaining film to go and see and like Femi said, it is a who's who of young acting talent so come and check us out! But I also think it is going to be a really good film. It looks like it is going to be beautifully shot, funny and touching.'
Shanika Warren-Markland and Robert Sheehan on the Suicide Kids set, photo: Priscilla Parmar
LIME LOVES LIFE
What Three Things Do You Love Most About Life?
Femi Oyeniran: The potential to do anything, my family and Cut the Chat [www.cutthechat.co.uk].
Shanika Warren-Markland: Acting, chocolates and surprises.
Info: Suicide Kids will be released this spring.