Damson Idris: ‘Mum would dress me in a three-piece golden suit’

Damson Idris: ‘Mum would dress me in a three-piece golden suit’

The Guardian

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Peckham-born Damson Idris is a huge name in the US. But back here his star is still rising. He talks to Tim Lewis about breaking out in Snowfall, his American accent, joking with Jay-Z and the joy of dressing up

In 2015, when he was a young actor from Peckham with a couple of theatre credits and, naturally, an episode of Casualty to his Equity card, Damson Idris somehow wangled a big TV audition in Los Angeles. The part was Franklin Saint, a bright kid in South Central LA during the 1980s who becomes a drug kingpin just as the city is on the cusp of a crack cocaine epidemic. Snowfall was the vision of John Singleton, the director of the seminal 1991 coming-of-age film Boyz n the Hood. Word was that every tyro black actor in America, and beyond, wanted to be cast as Franklin.

“The audition was about two, three weeks out,” recalls Idris, “so I went to my family and said, ‘Guys, I’m going to be in an American accent for three weeks and onwards if this process keeps going on. Don’t, don’t, don’t make no jokes. Don’t ask me, “Ahhhh, why are you talking like that?” No. My name’s Franklin and from now on you’re going to address me as Franklin. You hear that Mum?’ I was still living with my mum at the time. And she’s like, ‘Yeah, whatever. Go wash the dishes.’”

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