We had the chance to sit down acclaimed actors David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike to talk their new film “A United Kingdom” which hits theaters Feb 10th, 2017.
Based on the true story of the forbidden love of King Seretse Khama of Botswana (David Oyelowo) and Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), a white woman from London, which caused an international uproar when they decided to marry in the late 1940s just as apartheid was being introduced into South Africa. It was a decision that altered the course of African history.
Check out our interview after the jump:
OJ Williams: Congratulations on this project.
David Oyelowo: Thank you.
OJ Williams: I got to see it last night, and it definitely impacted me in a way, I was like wow. This is like a story I did not know at all. Where you surprised by the story when you first heard it?
David Oyelowo: I was, yeah. That was partly why I was very keen to see it get made, because not only was I surprised that I didn’t know it, I felt I should know it.
OJ Williams: Right.
David Oyelowo: And a lot of people should know of it in the United Kingdom, where we’re from, and in all across the continent of Africa. But also what was also quite surprising is a lot of people in Botswana didn’t know.
OJ Williams: What!?
David Oyelowo: This story.
Rosamund Pike: Yeah.
David Oyelowo: Yeah.
OJ Williams: Oh my god.
David Oyelowo: And so, you know, it just goes to show what happens to history when only a particular kind of person is getting to tell it.
Rosamund Pike: Right.
David Oyelowo: So, you know, those were all reasons why the film getting made was important.
OJ Williams: Were you surprised by the story as well?
Rosamund Pike: Yes, but then I mean, I don’t sort of, you know, have any arrogance to the point that I’m, you know, really abreast of history. I mean, and there are loads of incredible stories I won’t have heard of.
OJ Williams: This is true.
Rosamund Pike: You know so, I was just excited that we were going to get to tell it. Because I thought, you know, this is something that genuinely is inspiring. This is going to, you know if I walked out of the cinema having seen this I would be very excited by the potential. I don’t know, it’s one of those films that gives you a sense of what’s possible. Humanly possible.
OJ Williams: Very true. I can imagine the project has been in the works for a little bit, but it’s so relevant to everything that’s going on in the world today. Can you speak to that?
David Oyelowo: Yeah, but I think there’s never going to be a time where a film about the power of love is going to be irrelevant. I think it’s very relevant now, where you have situations where in our country in the UK, or here in America, where it feels from a governmental point of view, there seems to be this intent on making people distrust each other, keeping people apart on the basis of them being different. Whether racially, or from a gender point of view, or from a religious point of view. None of which I think points to the best of who we are as people. And, you know, the film is indicative of what is possible when people are allowed to come together.
OJ Williams: You guys have worked together before.
Rosamund Pike: Yeah.
OJ Williams: And now it’s your second project. Tell me what you most admire about each other.
Rosamund Pike: Oh so much, I mean, I, you know, apart from thinking David is a fantastic actor, I think he’s a fantastic man. And I think, you know, you play these characters like Seretse, you can’t just have a good actor. You have to have a commitment that runs fathoms deep. You know, there has to be an allegiance between what Seretse is transmitting, and something in the sort of core of who David is. You know Seretse wouldn’t come off as such a noble man if David didn’t have that inside him as well I think. It’s that sort of riding the wave of you plus character that makes something really gel.
David Oyelowo: Yeah, and for me, you know, I was very keen on it being Rosamund. I actually remember the first time I hinted at it to you was at the Palm Springs-
Rosamund Pike: You did, yeah yeah. It was at the Palm Springs Film Festival.
David Oyelowo: Film Festival. We were backstage just before we were both..
OJ Williams: Planting seeds.
Rosamund Pike: Yeah, planting seeds. He was.
David Oyelowo: Both together at these awards, and I said I have something for you. And I had always thought she would be great for this partly because, you know, I’d seen a lot of Rosamund’s work, and then I saw her in Gone Girl, and it showed me yet again I just can’t pin what a Rosamund Pike performance is going to be. And, I just felt that’s what you need with Ruth is this enigmatic quality that draws you in, that makes you want to know more. And I always knew that these two people fall in love quite quickly in the film, and what is going to make an audience believe that is seeing through this man’s eyes, the desire to know more about this woman. And that is something I feel Rosamund has a quality on screen, so it felt very right.
OJ Williams: Did you guys get to talk to the Khama family at all a little bit, before you took on the parts?
David Oyelowo: Yeah, Marcus ter Haar who is the nephew of the current president, and the current president is the son of both Ruth and Seretse. And you know, our writer was able to speak to Muriel before she passed away recently, and also Naledi. Muriel is-
Rosamund Pike: Ruth’s sister, yeah.
David Oyelowo: Ruth’s sister.
David Oyelowo: In the film, and Naledi is Seretse’s sister.
Rosamund Pike: No, she died just before I came onboard the film, sadly, but.
David Oyelowo: Yes, but our..
Rosamund Pike: The writer/screenwriter was able to.
David Oyelowo: Our writer got to meet him, and Naledi passed away, I think, just before we started shooting the film. So, they were all, you know, around it, gave us their blessing to shoot it, and were very much with us in terms of just making sure we’d got it right.