Kingsley Ben-Adir Talks Bob Marley Success & Basketball Ken at the Oscars

Kingsley Ben-Adir is taking success in stride. We spoke to him recently for the digital release of Bob Marley: One Love. His turn as the iconic reggae superstar shattered expectations with a $170 million dollar box office run, and a big open of $14 million on its Valentine’s Day launch. Ben-Adir feels “a little bit relieved” and “really blessed” that “people are enjoying the film.” He was “privileged to have been on the journey with the family.”

Bob Marley: One Love’s success hasn’t changed his methodology as an actor, saying: “In my mind, the work is the work. You just got to get straight back on the hustle.” Ben-Adir also spoke about his time onstage at the Oscars with Ryan Gosling’s smash performance of “I’m Just Ken.” The cast of Kens had little time to perfect the routine: “The rehearsal was crazy. We had like two hours. We were just like, ‘Let’s go make a mess, see what happens, and have some fun.‘” Watch above or read below for our complete interview with Kingsley Ben-Adir.

Blessed & Privileged to Play Bob Marley

Bob Marley: One Love

Release Date
February 14, 2024

Paramount PicturesPlan B Entertainment, Tuff Gong Pictures,

MovieWeb: It’s great to talk to you on the victory lap. Bob Marley: One Love was a box office hit. How are you feeling right now, basking in victory?

Kingsley Ben-Adir: It’s a nice and relaxed feeling. I guess I feel a little bit relieved. But overall, just really blessed, and kind of privileged to have been on the journey with the family, to have spent that much time with Bob, and to be in a place now where I get to feel good about the work I put into it, just the focus on authenticity, all of the energy that went into it, the focus and concentration. It’s nice to have a moment where you can relax and go, ‘It’s okay, people are really enjoying the film.’ That’s such a nice feeling.

MW: You’ve played Barack Obama, Malcolm X, and did a hell of a job here playing Bob Marley. But this is a big hit. What has this role done for you? Are there new doors opening that weren’t open before?

Kingsley Ben-Adir: That’s a really good question. I don’t know. I know that’s what’s projected onto me. I can see people saying that something else is going to happen to me now. But in my mind it’s always just like, the work is the work, you know? You’ve just got to get straight back on the hustle, and reading material that’s good, you hope. It’s always the work. You’re just trying to find characters the way that you can play it that’s complex in stories that feel like they’re about something.

Kingsley Ben-Adir: I’m just going to get back to work, start reading, and try to find something new that hasn’t come yet. So I’m just working on that and reading, just reading a lot. That’s really the privilege. That was something I always dreamed about. I have a lot of scripts. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have to fight for those scripts, because a lot of people want to get the part.

From Basketball Ken to Something Really Dark

MW: I saw your smiling face on the Oscar stage dancing in Ryan Gosling’s “I’m Just Ken” performance. I thought that you had this great effervescent glow. You’re kind of in the cultural zeitgeist with this movie and with the whole Barbie phenomenon. Talk about the rehearsal process for that performance. What’s it like, the reaction to that?

Kingsley Ben-Adir: I think the glowing that you saw was really more about Basketball Ken and how I love that character more than any of you know. I’m in a very happy place when I’m playing him. It was just a joy to be back with all the guys. And having some fun, being silly, bringing a little bit of joy and silliness to the ceremony. The rehearsal was crazy. We had like two hours. We were just like, ‘Let’s go make a mess, see what happens, and have some fun.’

MW: You’ve been in the MCU. You’re in Secret Invasion. You’ve played these meaty historical figures that really grind down and do a lot of dramatic stuff. What is your ideal role? You said you’re reading. You’re looking at something. What have you not done in your career that you’d be excited to do?

Kingsley Ben-Adir: If I’m honest with you, there have been a few conversations over the last week about a couple of things. Then there’s a couple of parts that are really ‘bad,’ some really dark material. I’m finding that my interest level is really peaking when I read that stuff. There’s something about that angle that I think I haven’t got to explore properly, that I would like to. When you talk about range, then you really have to sort of pivot and go, ‘It’s going to have to be something very different.’

Kingsley Ben-Adir: Secret Invasion was dark in the context of superhero land. It was fun. I did Secret Invasion because I wanted to work with Samuel [L. Jackson]. That was it. I wanted to be on the floor with him and Ben [Mendelsohn]. That was a different experience, but I think something really dark.

Bob Marley: One Love is currently in theatrical and digital release. It will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on May 28th. You can watch the trailer below:


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