Popular Nigerian actor Jim Iyke will no longer play the lead role in the much anticipated Kenyan crime buster MY LIFE IN CRIME after the producers dropped him. The Nigerian ‘bad boy’ had been cast to play the role of Jack Zole in the movie, which is an adaptation of John Kiriamiti’s book.
According to the movie’s script writer, Serah Mwihaki, Jim Iyke was dropped due to budget constraints.
“The budget needed to be slashed a lot and filming has been pushed to get an actor who won’t cost as much,” said Mwihaki while speaking to the press during the Broadcasting, Film and Music Africa conference at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre early this week.
‘MY LIFE IN CRIME’ – CRITICISM
In May last year, the producers of MY LIFE IN CRIME received massive criticism, especially from the country’s acting fraternity, for settling for a foreign actor to take the lead role in a Kenyan ‘ethnic’ movie. The fact that Jim is Nigerian made it even worse since the role of Jack Zolo requires a local who at least has an understanding of the Kikuyu lingual.
NEIL SCHEIL – ‘INTERNATIONAL APPEAL’
Neil Scheil, then the casting director for the movie, had defended his team’s move to settle for the Nigerian actor on grounds that he would give the production the much needed international appeal.
“…..This is an expensive film to make since it’s a period piece and we have to be true to that period. Because the budget is high we need to ensure that our investors have a strong business plan so they are secure in knowing they will get their money back +. Jim Iyke brings a huge audience with him from all of sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the international diaspora.
But that was not the only reason for casting Jim. Jim loved the script and had to audition. He worked hard and hired an accent coach. He flew himself out to Nairobi from Abuja and auditioned in person. He demonstrated a very high work ethic and superb talent.
Morgan Freeman played Nelson Mandela in Invictus. Daniel Day-Lewis played Abraham Lincoln. Jim Iyke will play Jack Zollo.”
Neil added that all the Kenyan actors who will be playing roles around the Jack Zollo character will gain more exposure from having Jim play the lead role than they have ever had before.
Kenyan actors for their part believe that Iyke was just handpicked for the role as there was never an audition for the same.
Neil has just made it clear to the Kenya Forum that he is no longer associated with the production hence cannot comment on the new developments.
LENANA KARIBA TO TAKE ON THE ROLE?
The producers have not yet officially announced who will be replacing Iyke and it’s not certain that eventually a Kenyan actor will be cast for the role but speculation is rife that sizzling actor Lenana Kariba might just be considered especially after Kiriamiti mentioned that he resembles his son. The movie is a production of Kirina Productions and Cthrough Productions.
This Kenya Forum correspondent believes that Lenana is a seasoned actor who can pull off the role but are the producers really going to settle for a Kenyan just because their first choice, Jim Iyke, is too costly for the production? Really!