Why Molosi didn’t play Seretse in hollywood biopic
Lead role will be played by Emmy-nominated actor David Oyelowo
Award winning Broadway actor and writer Donald Molosi says with the right investment and support, he could have landed the role of Sir Seretse Khama which will be played by British-American actor David Oyelowo in the upcoming Hollywood film, A United Kingdom.
Even though some Batswana expected him to play the leading role in the film which tells the epic love story of Lady Ruth and Seretse Khama, Molosi says at the end of the day Hollywood is a business and whoever pays the piper dictates the tune.
“Perhaps if I were from a country like Kenya or South Africa where governments rightfully invest millions in their biggest acting stars, I would be leading a film about us like this one. On the other hand, actors like David Oyelowo have more support and investment from their home countries and so they are able to finance a multi-million dollar project like this and, more visibly, lead it as actors,” he said.
Molosi was the first person to portray Sir Seretse Khama in a professional production that led to many international awards and honors to his name, and in the midst of those award shows, he says he remembers thinking that if he never got to play Sir Seretse on film, he would only be comfortable with three other actors playing him: “David Oyelowo was one of them! So when I found out a few years ago that he would be portraying Sir Seretse I was elated! He is a genuinely beautiful and generous spirit and his humanism grounds the excellence of his acting work. Besides, I have always respected his work way back from the days that I was in drama school in London. My reaction was one of unbridled joy!” he said.
He however leads a cast of Batswana in the multi racial film playing the character of Kabelo who he explains as the 1947 version of himself. “Kabelo is a fierce supporter of Ruth and Seretse’s marriage and although he is a small supporting character, he is memorable. Batswana are demanding to know more about their history right now and I am happy to be at their service with my talents,” he said. Molotsi says the film will be a wonderful opportunity for him to take the story of Sir Seretse Khama out of international obscurity and help put it in children’s curriculum in Botswana.
A United Kingdom, which will be released this year was shot in Serowe and Moralani, with some parts shot in the same house where Seretse and Ruth had lived. Molosi says he has many fond memories of being on set for the film saying, “Amma Asante is one of the best directors working in Hollywood right now and I have wonderful memories of seeing her genius at work. I had wonderful conversations with David Oyelowo. We are both of African descent which gives us a similar, very unique perspective on the artform in a uniquely inter-continental sort of way. I have done several Hollywood films before and this is by far the warmest, kindest Hollywood set I have been on,” he said.
Molosi’s book about Sir Seretse Khama and Lady Ruth Khama will also be launched in Cambridge University, Kenya, Uganda and Somalia. “Those nations have embraced my work on stage before and this time with the book is no different. Some countries are intending to buy it for their diplomats for them to learn about the wonderful story of Seretse and Ruth,” he said.