Regina King: British actors should be able to play American roles

Tom Horton, PA
·2-min read

Regina King has said she does not think British actors should be prevented from playing American characters.

The Oscar-winning actress recently made her directorial debut with One Night In Miami, a fictional account of a night boxer Cassius Clay, civil rights activist Malcolm X, singer-songwriter Sam Cooke and NFL star Jim Brown spent together in a hotel room in 1964.

British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir was cast as Malcolm X in the film.

Kingsley Ben-Adir
Kingsley Ben-Adir stars as Malcolm X in One Night In Miami (Ian West/PA)

During an interview with broadcaster Reggie Yates for Bafta, King, 49, said she sees no reason why foreign stars should not play US characters.

She added she was aware the issue of Ben-Adir’s nationality would “come my way” if she cast him as Malcolm X.

“For me, I feel like the best actor for the role should play the part, the actor that truly understands the role that they are playing,” she said.

King added: “If I was moved by a performance, I really don’t care where a person’s from because as an audience member, to me, they truly understood what they were doing, what they were embodying.”

She added Ben-Adir was the best actor to play the part of Malcolm X.

King described the script as a “love letter to the black man’s experience in America”.

King added: “But then taking it a step back and really taking in marginalised people across the world, there are feelings and experiences that black people in the UK, in Brazil, feel that are the same as in America.

“While yes, the history of how a country comes to be may be different, the marginalisation of a black man is the same.

“Colourism is the same in all of those places.”

One Night In Miami, which was released last year, is among the films which have been tipped for success ahead of the awards season.