Every good story needs a villain. One actor who actually enjoys embracing that role and kills it every time is Colman Domingo. Case in point his performance in the upcoming film @Zola, which is based on a 148-tweet tale shared by a Detroit waitress/exotic dancer named A’Ziah ‘Zola’ King that captivated the hearts and minds of Twitter users in 2015 and actually led to the inception of the Twitter thread feature.
In the film, Colman plays the Nigerian pimp named X. We first meet him when Zola, who Taylour Paige brilliantly plays, meets him for the first time before they embark on what will turn out to be the road trip from hell. Stefani (Riley Keough) neglected to share that X is not her “friend” but her pimp, who takes a liking to Zola after she shows how beneficial she is to his business following a night of turning tricks with her “dancing companion.”
Cassius Life had the opportunity to speak with Domingo about his role in the film. We opened up the interview by asking what lured him to the film? “The unique nature of it,” he begins. “First of all, that it came from a Twitter feed and then reimagined, well just opened up by [writers] Janicza Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris, and I thought it was a great undertaking because I was telling people I’m such a feminist.”
“It’s an interesting challenge to look into the soul of a pimp and to look at someone who traffics women,” he continued. “He’s funny, and it’s weird, it’s dark, and I thought it’s the muscles I haven’t flexed in a long time, and I thought I was interested in all of it. The whole story, I felt like I understand these people. I didn’t want to judge them. I just wanted to be in their world and their shoes for a bit, so it was actually a great undertaking.”
Domingo is no stranger to playing shady individuals. In fact, his character Victor Strand from AMC’s The Walking Dead spinoff, Fear The Walking Dead, shares some similarities with @Zola’s X. Domingo agreed while revealing to us his love for taking on the role of the villain. “It’s a little bit Victor Strand in there because you got some darkness in there,” Domingo says. “A lot of times people think that ‘oh Colman, you such nice guy, such a sweet guy’ but I love playing villains, I love playing dark people, I love playing the most complicated versions of the human being.”
He would go on to further explain how he humanized a character like X by also approaching it as an “immigrant story,” and the life he chose is “something that he has,” and he “made a career out of it.”
In the interview you can check out above, we also asking Domingo about the Nigerian accent that comes out of nowhere in the film. The actor revealed that he worked with a dialect coach on it, making sure to honor and respect it. At the same time wanting to throw the viewing audience off with the switch because when you first meet X, he’s very Americanized, and honestly, you have no idea he is Nigerian.
You can watch Domingo, Taylour Paige, and Riley Keough in honestly one of our must-see movies, @Zola, when it arrives in theaters Wednesday, June 30. If you enjoyed the Twitter thread, you’re definitely going to enjoy the film.
Photo: A24 / @Zola