Feb. 11, 2022

BONUS: Jimmy Akingbola • Ollie on Ted Lasso & Geoffrey on Bel-Air

Welcome back to the Crown & Anchor, Greyhounds! In this bonus episode Christian has a conversation with Jimmy Akingbola, who plays Ollie on Ted Lasso and Geoffrey on the upcoming Peacock series Bel-Air.

The guys chatted about Jimmy’s involvement...


Welcome back to the Crown & Anchor, Greyhounds! In this bonus episode Christian has a conversation with Jimmy Akingbola, who plays Ollie on Ted Lasso and Geoffrey on the upcoming Peacock series Bel-Air.

The guys chatted about Jimmy’s involvement with the Ted Lasso project, why Ollie didn’t show up in future episodes, how he got involved in Bel Air, and what The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air meant to him when he was growing up.

Discussed on this episode:

Richmond Til We Die is an episode-by-episode conversation about the Apple TV+ show Ted Lasso, where we explore the characters, their relationships to each other, and how they're able to make us laugh until we can hardly breathe one moment and then feel with the deepest parts of our hearts the next. When you're here, you're a greyhound!

Transcript

Unknown Speaker  


Christian  
Welcome to the crowded anchor greyhounds. This is Richmond till we die conversation about the Apple TV plus show Ted Lasso, wehre we explore the characters, their relationships to each other, and how they're able to make us laugh until we can hardly read one moment to deal with the deepest parts of our hearts the next

I'm Christian and my spiritual gifts are chillin out maxin, relaxin and coolin and for this bonus episode, I'm excited to welcome Jimmy Akingbola t to the podcast. Jimmy played Ollie on Season One of Ted Lasso and you'll remember Ollie as the driver who picked up Ted and Beardat the airport and showed them around London, as well as the waiter who served Trent and Ted on their first date together. Now Jimmy is playing the role of Jeffrey in Bel Air, a dramatic retelling of the hit 90's sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which is getting ready to premiere on Peacock and the original. The Jeffrey character was a traditional British Butler. But Jimmy gives him a gritty clo up in this new iteration. Jimmy has an extensive list of credits to his name. Some of his stage highlights include winning a TMA theater Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role of Christopher and Blue Orange, starring in the cut opposite Ian McKellen, and playing the title role of a fellow at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, which also received its own TMA Award. He has also appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows, you may recognize them in the superhero drama arrow, or the British drama it in the long run, which was created by Idris Elba and is loosely based on Elba's childhood. Now, if you live in the US, you've probably heard about Bel Air because NBC has given it the royal treatment of a debut sloth immediately following the Super Bowl. But if you aren't up to date with how it came to be a few years ago, Director, filmmaker and Fresh Prince fan Morgan Cooper posed the question what would happen if Will Smith made the Fresh Prince today? In the spring of 2019, Cooper uploaded his answer to YouTube, a four minute short film titled Bel Air, the film caught the eye of Will Smith, and we'll put those wheels in motion for this current retelling when the Fresh Prince aired in the early and mid 1990s. It was one of my favorite TV shows. I loved the numerous Fresh Prince references that appear in title so when I found out that an actor from Ted Alaska was also in Bel Air, I knew we had to make a run at having a conversation with Jimmy about both projects and fortunately, he accepted our invitation. So greyhounds please give a warm welcome to Jimmy Agen bola Jimmy, welcome to the show. Great to have you here today. I as well as everybody who's seen title so loves your work in that show as Olli and then, man like I grew up loving the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Super excited to see what you're going to bring to the table for this new dramatic retelling Bel Air that drops here in just a couple days right after the Super Bowl.

Jimmy Akingbola  
Oh, no, no, likewise, and you know, I'm the same with you to be a part of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air in this stage of my lives. It's like reliving the huge but you know, I'm just really excited that the fact that we're doing a dramatic version you know, it's a it's not a remake, it's a returning and I've always, even before I got when I got the audition I felt you can't do the Fresh Prince of Bel Air again. Because it's still understand that why it's a classic. You know, it's iconic show, but the only way you can retell the story is by doing it as Bellaire as a drama and by also having Morgan Cooper that did the trailer that went viral in 2019. But having him being backed 200% by Will Smith. They're the only wave that you could do this show and so so I'm really excited for you to watch it for everybody that's listening to tune in and enjoy at least two seasons.

Christian  
I was excited to see that the show has already been picked up for a second season. That's great a lot for us to look forward to when you were growing up. How much awareness did you have in the UK of the Fresh Prince as a rapper or Are the Fresh Prince of Bel Air as a TV show, as it was all like going crazy and blowing up over here?

Jimmy Akingbola  
Yeah, I, I've got older brothers. You know, I'm the youngest, so I was aware of Fresh Prince, in terms of your parents just don't understand. Oh, yeah, you know, he's storytelling type of rap. I grew up listening to a lot of rap and hip hop. And so, but the series that was a big hit in the UK, East London plus, though and, and it was a bit of like, it was almost like midweek. Chuck's in some ways, because he would be on at 6pm visitors, you know, so you go, you'd like you'd watch like two Australian shirts, folks, you'd watch Home and Away neighbors home away at like five o'clock neighbors that 530 to six. And then as you're eating your dinner, you would switch over to BBC Two, and then it would cut to this is a story about and like, everybody has that thing. And you know, no one would call you, you would watch that for 25 minutes, you know, and because there'd be no there'd be no commercials in the UK on BBC. in it. Yeah, you were just locked in it, there was no commercial break. It was so fantastic. So my youth was I felt like I sort of grew up with, like, the character and the family. And, and I think it was so iconic because of it was it was game changing culturally, you know, infused hip hop and, and also like the political issues and the consciousness of like, where we were going in terms of like the black community and, and I think there were other sitcoms that didn't really go there. Fresh Prince vida que ma, they were able to go there, there was like that stuff. I mean, they reran these things, but when he talks about Uncle Phil that he was marching with, with with Malcolm and you know, and mine, and when they do get arrested, built in a nice car to black men, you know, even the drug episodes when he takes speed, which is very funny, but the the seriousness of that in terms of like, drugs are not good, like all those things that they sort of finessed in, and they weren't serious moments, but you must be I didn't feel like it was spoon fed. I felt like we were already part of the world. And, and even me being a black brick in the UK, I was even able to tap into a lot of these things. And tap into that. That young man is trying to find his feet. And he's a fish out of water. Right? Yeah, guys a fish out of water with this, this wealthy black bow with this huge house. So So yeah, it's it's really exciting to do that now in 2022 for modern lens where it's not just a playground, scrap playground, scrap, you know, he's is that you deal with a top man from a gang member, and you hit someone and you pull out a gun on so that's some serious, Top Boy have to gather there. And what I love about owls is that you get to see what he loses the comedy, you just see him knock on the door. And we'll go listen to the song and go okay, this is where we are. With our version. You see the beauty of Philadelphia, West Philly Jeremy, you see how he was a prince, you know, he was a top guy in his area, how he was loved and adored his friends, his family, the community, and, and yet, seeing him ripped away from that and having to start again. Like, I feel like that's a really important aspect to our story.

Christian  
You mentioned the episode in the original where Will and Carlton get pulled over that was in the sixth episode of that first season. And so they went in hard right away. And one of the unique things that was happening there, too, was there was a conversation throughout the episode going on between will with his lived experience growing up in Philly in a non affluent area, and then Carlton who grew up in a fluent area and was coming in with all of the privileges that he had experienced before in his life and those privileged experiences and them viewing the police differently. Is that something dynamic that you see in this new version as well as you try to tackle some of those issues surrounding race and authority and policing.

Jimmy Akingbola  
If we look at will and calm And then relationship. I feel like we are able to tap into two sides of the coin. The really the really interesting issue where he talks about the use of the N word. Oh, wow. Okay, you know, yeah. And and, and and I feel like, that's like, that's part of our version of doing some of what they'll, you know, the original version didn't tell the themes of like, who can use that word? You know? Yes. Can we use it just because we black? Can we kind of white person say if the singing a song? You know, like, for me, that's real strong. And I think that is talking about, like, it's about the conversation. I think the conversation shifted globally. So in the UK, we are having conversations about microaggressions and about language and about true inclusion and diversity, you know, but we also still have these have those conversations with ourselves within the black community, you know, and I think we do this in a really nuanced way of like, you know, it's almost like we have two princes in our show. And, and we'll know, yeah. So like, we will comes to Villa, and the prince is how you reveal, and he thrives in that world, you know, yet that world is predominantly why and Bernie has got a position because it's his wealth. And, and I think, like, those are really interesting moments, things for me like that we are looking at in a nuanced way without, again, hitting people over the head. And yet, those are things that we can relate to in the UK, you know, we can relate to that with someone going to a private school. Oh, does that mean because you went to a private school? You're not black? Does it? What does it mean to be black? Generally? Oh, yeah. So, so yeah. Oh, because because that person nonsense is not safe. That words, does that mean that they're not like, we really go into those things. And that's just a snippet. But that's what's really interesting, that's a snippet between ourselves and we have those discussions, you know, between our characters, and then, and then outside of that, you're looking at the outside of when you have money in the standing, it's like privilege, we come a privilege, it is a privilege and not just work, we have a privilege, you know, if you have a certain class and standing in society. So I don't know if I've answered your question completely. But I do feel like we've, we've created our own versions of those moments, in terms of what you refer to original in terms of them being arrested, you know, being in a nice car, and then that because in that moment, I love that episode, you get a wheel that knows exactly how to speak and what to do, then you've got Carlton , in original in his entire Old Place going like, it'd be fine. And just get it completely wrong. You know, and so we've got versions of that, definitely. Because everything, even though this is a retelling is completely different from the original, but it's so respectful when there's so many beautiful, nuanced nods to the original. And I think that's people like ourselves fans of the original, you can have this nostalgic feel and, and this connection immediately with the show. But also, if you really know the reading, and you're gonna catch these little moments, they go, Ah, okay, I see what they did there. That's nice. That's nice. You know,

Christian  
one of the big differences between the original and this new version is your character. In the original Jeffrey was a butler, and he was older. And now you come in as Jeffrey but your cast as a house manager and you are much closer in age to will and Carlton than Geoffrey in that original version. So without giving up too much. What can we expect from this new Jeffrey that you bring to the screen?

Jimmy Akingbola  
Yeah, no, thank you so much. Yeah, we, me and Morgan talked about our version of Jeffrey we knew immediately he wasn't going to be a butler. We we didn't want that to be part of our retailing over 2022 Virgin, you know, we were that optically. Well, that doesn't seem like you're right. You know, and so but we talked about authenticity, we talked about what would it be like for a black Brit now in 2022 in in Los Angeles and Bel Air, and then I was able to go like, well, you know, I've been living out for a bit and, and actually even as a young person watching American TV, I feel like it's been rare that that we've had an authentic like black British voice You know, on TV and so, yes, the original Jeffrey that was one side of it. But in terms of like, there's, there's a whole spectrum of the black community, we're all from different places, and we, we move and talk in different ways. And so we wanted to create one that was from East London, you know, like that, that that actually actually streetsmart that she's educated he went to school, he's educated as well, but he's much more fluid. He's a he's a man that knows, you know, knows what goes on in the streets by the foot. Like the other definitely might be quite far removed from that, where this this Jeffrey, he's closer to will, you know, you know, and yet he he he's a bit like, if you if you put the characters like ghosts from from the power and string a bell from the wire, that suit aspect of, of, you know, I'm not saying definitely I'm not saying that he's a gangster but I'm saying is he is a Buffy that he's a hybrid of, of all the different worlds so definitely could go to the hood and talk to anyone and get down. Goeffrey could go to a Harvard reunion with with Philip Banks, and I mean, you could go to any business meeting. He's very, very clever and sharp, but he's, he's a he's a working class man. That's done good. You know, and, and he's more than the house manager without giving anything away. You know, he sees in his everything. He's, he's been through a lot. And, um, and we're gonna like we're gonna get into Geoffrey backstory, but for me, he's his, his his best friend. He's his conciliatory and he's the guy that you know next Philip know what's going down during me and you know, Phillip sharp and things but but but Geoff, we spots the gaps. And Goeff, we also is there to, you know, keep an eye on the on the young ones,

Christian  
So you knew Joseph Marcel, the actor who played Geoffrey and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, what was your guys's relationship like?

Jimmy Akingbola  
Yes, yes. So Joseph Marcel. He's a legend. You know, he is a legend, legend on stage TV and film. So growing up seeing him in the first period stability, it was amazing. And then, about 567 years ago, I did a show in the UK called death in paradise, which was a bit like a, like a modern day, but she wrote set in the Caribbean. And he played my father on this episode, you know, and I remember we were in the Caribbean in Guadeloupe, run the beach. I'm by laying on a lounger with Joseph next to me. And I'm just like, Joseph, this is our day off where we can pay for this where we are in the Caribbean. Does this ever get old? And he's like, No, dead boy. It does not. I love it. And I'm just like, with Joseph myself, aka Jeffrey, and just him sharing that moment is a desire for the work. And it was beautiful. And also, because definitely, you know, Jeff was one o'clock, and he can speak real. He can talk the lingo. So actually, me becoming friends with them again, to know them and hang out with them and just was beautiful. And there's a picture of us pointing to each other like that way to white vest. And I look at this picture. We looked like five on son, but I did not ever think six years later, I will be playing. He's wrong. She's wrong, you know. And I called him because I called him. I called him when I got the role. And he was like, Jimmy, no, congratulations. We are all happy for you. Well, Alfonso, all of us were so excited for you guys with 100% behind you, and we can't wait to see it. And that moment for me, because it was it was emotional. I get emotional, you know, because it's sort of that, you know, it's also that blessing but also, I'm a big believer in those that have gone before us and open those doors and Joseph, he's one of those for me and, and it's nice to sort of, you know, be a part of his legacy.

Christian  
That's so incredible. I want to shift gears a bit to Ted Lasso. So which is where a lot of our fans in the United States met you? How did you get involved in title so,

Jimmy Akingbola  
 I got this tape through about table so and I saw Jason's Sudeikis name on it. And I was like, I love this guy. Cuz I'm a big football man. I'm a Liverpool supporter, I grew up in East London. Westham should be my team. But I didn't support Liverpool from day one. But I saw all the little skits that Jason had done as the Tottenham Hotspurs manager, you know, over the years on YouTube, and I was like, This guy is hilarious. He's a comic genius. And so when I got the tape, it was like to play a character called Ollie is going to be his friend, I think I was like, four to six episodes, I was like, read the pilot of that. This is so funny, I get it. Again, it's a fish out of water story, right? Like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. And also that thing where she's coming from American football, to British football to soccer. I was like, This is so clever. It's written well, I mean, the team behind it, everybody behind it, are amazing people, I do a lot of comedy. So I looked at my scenes, but they were very, like, short. So I was like, I can make can do this. But I'm gonna have to ad lib and just have fun and do what I do with comedy on this, you know, and if I get told off and say, continue, do this thing again, and just do what's written, then I'll do that. I just didn't feel like there was enough there for me to do it. And I did it with a friend. And then I think it was like, a week later, boom, I was told Jim, you got to fly to London. They they want to book you for this. And, and then I had, I was in the middle of doing another job for Kwibi called the most dangerous games with millions worth. So it was really hard to flout dates, you know, terms of to do Ted last on that time. But Apple and Kwibi, they worked it out. And the first day I saw Jason is that I loved your tapes. He's like, Jimmy, look, there is the script. But let's just play. And I'm telling you, we did so many tapes. I mean, what got left in there was great. But what we did before we just kept, we were going back and forth. Because I love playing in the moment, I can really sort of improvise in the moment, and Jason's the king of it. So being able to sort of spar with someone like that was fantastic. And, and also for them to give you the license to do that on set is brilliant. And so also, it was one of the first times because I was homesick because he's so funny. And you never know what's coming up. And I was like, oh my god, I see myself as a professor. And I was like, I kept laughing so much, because he's just so good. And so real with it. And so, Ali, originally, I think and feel what we discussed was going to be almost like a like a lap, as it is when you move to a new city on country like a lack of friend comfort, and a place he would return to and, and so I really enjoyed that. One. Ali wasn't just a cab driver, he owned a restaurant with his wife, then his wife also was was Indian . I love that terms of the diversity of storytelling, how that's still lacking. And we need to show those stories without making it a thing. They're just a family. And it's a dad's business, you know? And so even those things about Is it too hot. A lot of that stuff was extra season adlibs that we were able to put in and play with. And it's just unfortunate that I think at that time, they will still what they were writing if they go and still going on what we're going to do here, but also within that time, some scenes got pushed back, I run out of time. And so when you look at all these character, he's there and you wait to see where it's going to go with him and Jason's character. And then I disappeared and I disappeared because I had to go and do the query job.

And then I bought another job so I couldn't come back to continue the arc and so on. It's been a shame that I've not been able to do more and be a part of this juggernaut, this amazing show that's blown everyone away over the last few years. But what I have loved look completely up to date, a dip dip in and out. But Sarah nails is one of my really good friends. I've done a lot of theater with her. She's just in on it, I know Hamner as well. And she's fantastic. But just to see how the show's elevated and how the whole world has taken to it, I think is something about timing, right? I think we were all in a certain place. And I think if you don't love that show, then this might be something wrong with you, because he's just got so much hot love to it. And it's so funny that it's the perfect lockdown and post lockdown. So

Christian  
it's good to hear that all he had a bigger there was a bigger vision for ollie, and that the only reason that you didn't end up coming back into the show was because you're out there getting out work making that money. That's encouraging for I think, everybody to hear for fans who really enjoyed you and the character. One thing that fans really want is a blooper reel. And that's never been released yet. My hope is that after they finish up with season three, and everything is done and dusted, that they'll do that. And that'd be cool, because then maybe we could see some of your improv chops.

Jimmy Akingbola  
That would be amazing. You know, whatever the amazing. I'm gonna try and try and like DM the costume department, the producers say, Yo, we're gonna push that we need a blooper reel. Yeah, and then lovely. They did try and ask to get me back. I think season two, it's just, it's just timing some if they're listening, don't forget me. I still want to come back so we can make it happen. We can make it happen.

Christian  
It is a bummer that you missed out on this aspect of title. So just being part of the Zeitgeist. But on the other hand, now with Bella, you're involved in this huge project? How was that pitched to you? Because now it's going to debut after the Superbowl. NBC is pushing it hard, and they're going to be pushing it during the biggest sporting event in this country. Did you know or were you led to believe it was going to be this big?

Jimmy Akingbola  
This is a surprise. This is a surprise. It's a beautiful surprise. I mean, I've got to be honest with you. It was I was surprised in so many stages. Right. Let me just go back on this last question. There was when I first saw the trailer, and 2019 I thought that was the show. And I was like it's different. And I was like, but and then I I was a bit like peas that are looking to get Tom to be obedient and be a regular role, you know. And then when the vision came around, I that was that only at that moment that I realized that was deserved spec trailer of that more than cooked bread and created. So I didn't even realize that will was behind it. I didn't realize that it been picked up for two seasons. So I went from I turned it down at first going I'm too young to play Jeffery because I was stuck in this sort of when I was a kid watching it. And I didn't know that the new vision. And then I I wasn't until I flew out I booked the job I flew out and we were on a zoom like this. And I look at the script and he says oh, it's a Quincy Jones is part of this. Will Smith as well. Such a shock that I hadn't realized even though we had done the videos, I hadn't realized how big it was and the involvement of how connected it was to all the original team. Benny Medina didn't remain the original is it? Oh, it's righteous and everything. I was just like, suddenly in that moment on a zoom and we were doing I've read through it hit me I was like, this is going to be huge, but they've been telling us bit by bit. Oh, we're gonna do Superbowl Sunday. And I was just like, wow, that is huge. And but now about today and it is huge. I think we're trying to do something really different for the fans of the original for the culture created a different iconic, groundbreaking show that whether you watch the original, you will love it because you can be invested in the characters. And even if you hadn't, you're going to love it but it's going to make you want to watch the original. I think the way it's been handled there's so much love and respect and it's always connected to the original and yet there's something free, new and vibrant is cinematic. If you look at the trailer, the look of a cinematic and epic.

Christian  
By now he'll be busy with title so stuff but I'm willing to bet a rather large sum of money based solely on the number of Fresh Prince references that show up in Alaska that Jason Sudeikis will be catching Bel Air and it'll be fun Super Bowl Sunday and the days and weeks following to see if your phone is blowing up with folks from London.

Jimmy Akingbola  
You know, I'm gonna stop tweeting that. When's it gonna be like? Yeah, I think, I think I think I think I think Olli needs to come back and give, give, give Jason some new dishes that they need to go out on a public pool, drinking some pints together.

Christian  
Well, everybody's rooting for that to happen. We love your work. We're excited for Bel Air. Hopefully, we'll see you back in table. So at some point, and for our folks who are over here in the United States, you know, hopefully some of the work that you're doing on stuff in England and across the UK, will make its way over here so we can continue to enjoy all of your work.

Jimmy Akingbola  
Thank you so much. As you guys and pray, I see all the stuff that you guys do online. And that's really important part of what it is for us to make the show that we're part of that so. So thank you. And thank you for being fans and Ali and yeah, tons of other work. Rip rock stars among those two channels out here. So check that out. Yeah, what a best thank you them.

Christian  
And that's our show. We hope you enjoyed our discussion. Jimmy Akingbola. You can check out the show notes for links to his social media accounts, some of its projects and other cool stuff we mentioned in this episode. We'll be back soon with more title so conversations, but you can keep the conversation going on Twitter and Instagram. Our handle on both is @TedLassoPod this episode of Richmond Til We Die was brought to you by gin and kerosine productions, who was produced and edited by Brett Callen and myself Christian, are also mixed this episode and composed all of our dope music. If you are lightened by this conversation, we ask that you take a moment, give our show a five star review and subscribe to our feed. It is the best and easiest way you can show support for the pod. Alright, I'm Christian signing off for my co host Brett and Marissa as well as for Jimmy I Kambala. Thanks for listening. Until next time, cheers y'all.