The X-Files had David Duchovny, Fringe has Joshua Jackson and SABC1’s pioneering sci-fi series, Room 9, has Anthony Oseyemi. Debashine Thangevelo enjoyed a chat with the actor (recently seen in Something’s Cooking, one of the shows in e.tv’s Mzansi Love: Ekasi Style series, based on Nollywood novels),|and he is having a blast on the set, which has been turned into supernatural minefield where African mythology comes to life…
FAMED for his big-screen offerings (Sarafina!, Cry, The Beloved Country, Faith’s Corner, Yesterday, Number 10, Prey and Stilte), Darrell Roodt makes a departure with Room 9 – a supernatural sci-fi series set in a post-apocalyptic world.
And Anthony Oseyemi made a big impression on Roodt and producer Jeremy Nathan when they met him to discuss the possibility of his playing the role of Solomon Onyegu, a Nigerian expert in African paranormal myths and folklore in the New Azanian Police Department’s Room 9 special occult division.
Oseyemi, 35, stealing a few minutes from the shoot, says: “I was approached for the part. [Actors agent] Moonyeenn Lee called and said I had a meeting with Darrell Roodt and Jeremy Nathan.
“We sat down and discussed the character and the world he is in – this alternate reality with a fringe police department. I think they liked my tongue-in-cheek energy and the fact that I am a fan of the genre.
“Also, as I have lived in the UK, I have a twang that works for the character. They loved the mix. While Solomon is pretty serious due to his dark past, he has a funny bone too. They were looking for someone to bring that out.”
Oseyemi says they began shooting the 13-part series on August 13.
“The studio stuff we’ve been doing in Maraisburg. The location stuff we’ve done in Rosebank, the CBD… around Joburg basically. The series is set about 20 to 30 years in the future, so the backdrop works,” he adds.
He is chuffed to be working with Roodt, who is open to actors taking liberties at times, but keeps a tight rein on the overall flow of the story to ensure his vision is realised.
“[Roodt] is cool. He allows you to expand sometimes, but he knows what he wants and will tell you if your suggestion isn’t plausible.”
Nor can Oseyemi stop singing the praises of his co-stars. He laughs, “I have the most fun and misbehave with Zethu [Dlomo]. We have lots of energy. We do comedy skits. She plays this new by-the-book detective. David [Butler’s] character is nicknamed ‘The Darkness’ by the other departments. He is the head of the team, old-school, and has seen it all before.
“David is so experienced. He doesn’t stop teaching us on set – he basically gives you the benefit of his experience. He is also very funny. Once he was telling us about this Gangnam dance and he even did the moves… I should have videoed it. And while Angela [Ludek] plays this wise and parental clairvoyant, she is crazy when you flip her personality.”
The series covers stories relating to everything from satanic cults, muti murders, the tokoloshe, demons, poltergeists, zombies, werewolves, aliens, and vampires to, gasp, even a mermaid.
Oseyemi continues: “All the storylines are rooted in African culture and mythology, so it isn’t too far-fetched for viewers. And we have some true gems. Room 9, I’d say, has the intrigue of The Lab, the drama and moment-to-moment happenings of Isidingo and the swagger of Fringe.”
Sounds like a must-see for those addicted to supernatural happenings in shows such as Supernatural, Fringe, Warehouse 13 and Eureka. It’s freaky, but you may just like it!
• Room 9 airs on SABC1 on Thursday, November 8, at 8.30pm.