The highly anticipated crime thriller, The Black Book which stars Richard Mofe Damijo, dropped on Netflix earlier today, and it has been trending online.
The Richard Mofe Damijo-led title which is directed and produced by Editi Effiong tells the story of a Deacon who takes justice into his own hands and fights a corrupt police gang to absolve him after his son is framed for kidnapping.
Nollywood stars like De Laoye, Sam Dede, Alex Usifo Omiagbo, Olumide Oworu, Shaffy Bello, Ireti Doyle, Taiwo Ajayi Lycett, Ikechukwu Onunaku, Patric Doyle, Bimbo Manuel Femi Branch, Denola Grey, Kelechi Udegbe, and Nobert Young, displayed their excellent acting skills in the Black book.
Shedding light on the sacrifices he made for the movie, Richard Mofe Damijo on his Instagram page disclosed how he went from doing 4 press-ups to 40 press-ups a day.
“What a journey it has been. Not done this for a while but let me give you some background so you can appreciate the film a lot more when it drops.
I met @editieffiong at a restaurant. Had lunch and he talked me through his film. I’m interested and I agree to do it. We shake hands and he says, “Baba you’ll need to lose some weight” wait did this young man just call me fat? Deep breath, and I go, “Oh sure, if you will pay for it”! He agreed. We shake hands again and he goes “You need to be fitter physically sir.
You need to hit the gym a minimum 3 times a week for some months before we shoot” I’m looking at this young man and his audacity, about to protest but I looked down at me and I knew he was right. I had sort of let go at the time and was precisely 120kg. We shook hands on it and this time I walked out and didn’t hear him say anything else.
I confess that it was when I started training that I knew this wasn’t for just the film but my own life. I couldn’t do more than probably 2 or 4 press-ups. Weights? I was a mess.
Slowly but steadily my journey began….
The weight came off finally and I found the character I was looking for. From single-digit press-ups to 40 at a stretch. From doing 10kg dumbbells to 50kg or so. Uzi threw in some boxing too and before long I was ready. I could jump, fight, run, etc”
He further spilled on how he went melanin in color for the movie shoot.
“Truth be told, even though there were tough days during the preparations for the shoot nothing worried me more than how dark the character had to go.
When I say dark I mean it in every literary sense. No smiles. No romance. No sweetness nothing. As in to conspire with the overall darkness, nature used to align with us.
So we were shooting in Apapa on a Sunday after by the docks and the sun is out in all its glory. No jokes it was probably 36 to 38 degrees at that moment and I was about to step out into it to shoot. I did.
Then we cut after the first take and I was sweating buckets and I joked about the sun being capable of driving anyone mad at that intensity. I don’t know what made me ask the make-up artist for a mirror to look at my face but what I saw made me scream. My face was so dark I didn’t recognize me. But for the timely explanation of the makeup artist, I would have thought something was terribly wrong.
She said it was my body protecting itself by producing more melanin to protect my skin.
Looking at the pictures now I see the effect it has on my character and I thank God for making nature itself align. No make up nothing. All melanin. Now I know what Melanin popping means.
Opening up on an accident he had on set, Richard Mofe Damijo said “It’s impossible to do a big thing without big trials. My own biggest hurdle doing The Black Book was accidentally pouring boiling water on myself 3 days into production!
The shoot was going great and I had a great time for three days. Then I had the morning off.
I did not have to make myself coffee that morning – I could have just ordered it from the hotel, but I was Paul Edima now, a man who cooks for his son, so I was staying in character and being self sufficient.
I do not exactly remember the sequence of events, but what I remember is hot, scalding water pouring on both my thighs and knee,seeing my skin move as I rubbed it in panic and hearing the waiter scream “don’t touch it, don’t touch it”!
My first thought was to the film, what is this temptation? The implication was clear, we may have to delay the shoot. I called Editi…I could hear the gears spin in that head of his. I didn’t have to explain anything, he knew. But he didn’t speak about the film. He said “We have to get you to hospital immediately”.
No one spoke about the film at all. @lalaakindoju sent flowers and a care package and all they talked about was me getting better.
I knew and saw, this was the big trial I had to overcome. Too many people who look up to me had worked to bring us to this stage – I would not be letting them down.
The way out was to have my legs wrapped up and protected, in a way that allowed me function. I was still in pain, but this is why we trained. I could take the pain. It added to the character.
My first scene, I had to react quickly, fall, and get up quickly. Everyone looked at me worried. I looked back, trying to numb the pain. The pain refused to go, there was no going around the pain win, so I powered through it. Blood and all!
After every take, Editi and 5 or 6 people would rush to me to see if I’m ok. We were building a family! …until midway though the night, our generator went up in flames!
Praising the movie director, Richard Mofe Damijo concluded by saying “The first thing I noticed when I left Editi was that he kept to his word and followed up. Within days, arrangements were made with my preferred chef for a new diet plan, a trainer was paid, and I thought “Ok, this young man is serious”. But none of that was as serious as the military training – after discussing the plans for the gun training, Editi added “by the way, the trainer is an active US Marine…” What?
To my director, son, and friend, you did it. You made the plunge, did the impossible, and fought to make this film everything you had dreamed it would be. The world is about to witness your genius! They think they are ready – they don’t know what is about to hit them.
This is the film! This is my film. This is Nollywood’s Biggest Film yet! Brace yourselves, it’s going to be a wild ride into the depths.”