Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 

Macho Chiwetel Ejiofor and his ‘Kinky Boots’ role


Footwear is at the heart of the audience-friendly British comedy ‘Kinky Boots’. So it’s unsurprising that every reporter asks acclaimed actor Chiwetel Ejiofor the same question: “What was it like to wear women’s heels?”
In director Julian Jarrold’s upbeat comedy, Ejiofor plays Lola, a burly London drag queen in need of high heels that can support a man’s weight. Lola’s unexpected hero is Charlie Price (Joel Edgeton), a nice guy desperate to save his family’s failing Northampton, England shoe factory.
Capitalizing on the transvestite market turns out to be business genius. It also provides some lessons in tolerance for Price and his factory workers.
Comedy is hard for a dramatic performer like Ejiofor, best known for his role in the British immigration tale ‘Dirty Pretty Things’. Comedy while balancing on high heels is next to impossible.
“It was hard,” Ejiofor says with a wide grin and wink. “It was really hard. But I thought I looked good.”
British audiences know Ejiofor — he goes by the nickname Chiwe, pronounced “Chewy”, for his roles on the lawyer show ‘Trust’ and ‘The Canterbury Tales’. His stage performance Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange earned nominations for the Olivier Awards and London Evening Standard Awards. He’s a nominee for the BAFTA Rising Star Award. Ejiofor, a London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art alum, has already gained a lifetime’s worth of acclaim by age 29.
U.S. audiences recognize his face thanks to roles in the John Singleton crime drama 'Four Brothers' and the sci-fi action movie 'Serenity'.
“You gain a qualified instinct from experience,” he says. “You learn from past decisions. You believe in the projects because you believe in yourself.”
Ejiofor can now add wearing woman’s heels to his list of experiences. Rest assured, he’ll be back, although probably in more sensible shoes.

Kinky Boots made its U.S. premiere at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Miramax Films is currently releasing it in theaters across America.

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