Exclusives Interviews 30 October 2023

Adam Deacon & Jazzie Zonzolo Talk Sumotherhood, Mental Health, Longevity & More

30 October 2023

From the birth of the early noughties to the present 2020’s, Adam Deacon and Jazzie Zonzolo have been able to navigate and excel through their careers into established craftsmen in the filmmaking industry.

Accolades aplenty include a prestigious BAFTA award win for Adam, whilst Jazzie boasts the ownership of The Jazzie Show, a Channel U innovation which had fans in hysterics throughout the years. Both have shared longevity within the entertainment business, but there comes a time where your ambition leads you to wanting more tangible success.

The transition from becoming an actor, developing your artistry and then deep diving into scriptwriting has been an achievement held as a pinnacle for both men. Sumotherhood’s release marks a new era for the star actors of the enthralling movie. They have been able to embed their blueprint on the comedic offering and invite the audience into the world they pictured behind the lens.

As we head to Soho Hotel where the main attractions await, we ponder the thought of how important British filmmakers have been over the decades and what messages they let resonate with their viewers. We caught up with the actors to speak on the release of movie, the backstory behind the main characters Riko and Kane, mental health and much more.

What was the thought process when directing this movie and what did you want to achieve with this film?

Adam: “For me directing the movie, I really wanted to prove myself to the industry. There was a long break between the first film I put out and this film. I felt like I needed to let people know I’m back and I’m feeling creative. For us, we always wanted to step up the levels. Give people what they might expect from Anuvahood, then hit them with action, drama and some really strong messages within the film”.

Can you give us the backstory to the lives of Riko and Kane?

Adam: “They live in the hood and just want to be roadman!”

Jazzie: “The biggest!”

“They want to be the biggest roadman but they’re not cut out for that life! They seem to always get through. They have a lot of heart though and they can fight!”

“Well, Riko can fight”.

“You had a few moves man!”

“Kane tries a little thing but gets away with it. Riko has the swag with it!”

If you both got into trouble, would you be calling Riko or Kane?

Adam: “I wouldn’t call any of them! How’s Kane gonna’ help me get out of trouble!”

“If you had to, you would hit up Kane!”

“You might want to call up Riko! He’s a fighter and I feel like he’s got a lot more sense, but Kane puts him down a different path with his hype. Kane’s not helping the situation”.

“Kane doesn’t help the situation but he’ll definitely back it! He’s there”.

How do you go about creating the profile of a character for a movie? Do you reflect on past experiences, or does it depend on the plot of the movie?

Adam: “I feel like everyone knows someone like Riko and Kane. We’ve grew up around people like that. So, it was just exaggerating what we’ve seen out there”.

What is your personal process for getting into a character?

Adam: “I feel like for me, where we spent so long writing the script, I felt like I just knew Riko. When it was time to be on set, I knew the character like the back of my hand. For me, it was kind of strange because normally when I do an acting job, I’ll have the time. With this, where I was directing, I had to make sure I was top of it months before we got onto set”.

Jazzie: “I think for me it was more of doing research in regard to comedy actors. This one here, I really wanted to execute properly. This was my first major role. I know I did Anuvahood but that was a group. This time I’m alongside Adam, he’s been doing it for years. I really wanted to nail Kane to the T. His energy is on 100! I had to keep that going. I was looking at Chris Tucker, Eddie Murphy and taking things from them and remixing them”.

Adam: “I’ve got to say, I’m so proud of Jazzie. He’s come from a more improvised background, and I feel like he’s learnt his craft. He took it really serious. I’ll look over and see Jazzie going through his lines. I’ll always look behind the monitor and think they’re giving it everything”.

Sumotherhood is funny from start to finish, but you also touch on the aspects of mental health, particularly bipolar in the movie – Was there an importance on getting this message out in the film?

Adam: “For me, when I was going through my own struggles, I knew I had to touch on certain mental health issues. There was so much written about me, I had to own it and it felt therapeutic to put it in comedy. I always wanted to raise awareness, especially with young men. Getting young men to talk about their mental health problems more. There is a stigma with mental health and for a young man, it’s seen as a weakness to be talking about these things. I wanted to get that conversation happening where it’s okay to talk about mental health with your boys”.

Who was the most enjoyable character to work on and develop?

Adam: “For me, it’s got to be Ed Sheeran. He’s a proper perfectionist and he takes what he does very serious. He owns a pub in his house! We were filming there and rehearsing and he’s such a perfectionist. There’s a lot of dialogue, he learnt his lines, he improvised. He has a real talent for acting”.

What steps did you both make from transitioning from acting into directing and writing?

Jazzie: “To be honest with you, I’ve been doing this from the beginning. I think for me, it was more to do with the producing side. That was edxciting for me. With writing, I’ve ddone it before so I know the process and everything. With producing, to be behind the scenes and when you’re a producer you have to problem solve. You have to figure out how to make things happen and I was able to do that. It was a really good experience”.

Adam: “I think the writing side, me, Michael and Jazzie working together, that came naturally. That was a progression that had to happen. Me and Jazzie used to work on stuff from way back but this was the first time we sat down, we got pen to paper and actually wrote the script. I feel like I really wanted to take my directing very serious. I wanted to learn my craft properly. I spent time learning about different cameras, different angles. We wanted to elevate it. We wanted to make it look epic on screen”.

Jazzie: “As a director, Adam wasn’t playing no games! I have to give him his props. He was acting and directing at the same time. Whilst his doing his thing, he’s clocked that it’s the wrong line from another actor, he’ll cut and go back to the monitor. Big boy director! I feel they don’t give him his flowers but he’s an amazing director”.

Adam: “Being an actor myself, it felt good working with other actors. I felt like I knew how to get the performance out of them, and they trusted me as well, so that felt good”.

Finally, what is the key to longevity in the acting business?

Adam: “I think it’s about adapting. Changing with the times, there’s always a new generation coming through that don’t know your earlier work. When we thought about Sumotherhood, it was like, we know we have the fanbase from all the other hood films, but we wanted to get a whole new generation of people that might not know who me and Jazzie are at all! For them to just come and watch a film, enjoy it, and then take the time to learn about all the other projects we’ve worked on back in the day”.

Jazzie: “For me, the longevity things is more about staying true to yourself. Don’t follow the trends. Sometimes it’s easy to think someone is popping, then all of a sudden you follow that trend. Just stay in your lane, block out the noise and just do you”.

Adam: “I would say don’t just focus on the clout so much. Focus on the project, the content, putting something new out there, the quality. I feel like so many things get made and don’t have the quality behind it. We spent a long time trying to make sure the quality represented what we were trying to make”.

Jazzie: “Just to add on about the clout, you have to understand there’s a lot of people that might not be at this present time as relevant clout-wise, but we didn’t care for that. We just wanted quality and talent and that’s what we tried to do”.

Adam: “It was like people ringing our phones like “Oi Cuz, put me in the film!”. Family members! It’s like everyone had to audition for this. We’re not playing about. Even if it’s one line, you’ve got to come in and meet the casting director. We weren’t playing!”

Watch Sumotherhood now in Cinemas across the UK.