Time is an important factor in business and many who want to be taken seriously are quick to blurt out the famous ‘time is money’ line just to drive home the point. Those who stick to time are often taken seriously even by the many whom constantly struggle with the Ghana Man Time (GMT) syndrome. Renowned and focused actor Adjetey Anang (Pusher) is known by many to be a time-keeper and an actor who takes his profession seriously. In an interview with me, the actor revealed that working with some old hands of the acting profession had taught him some strong work ethics.
Giving reasons for which he came highly recommended by most of the filmmakers he’s worked with, he noted “I think, to a very large extent, it’s the training I received. It goes way back to when I was at the National Theater with the national drama company, ‘Abibigroma’ where I began some serious theater works with regards to the stage. I had the likes of David Dontoh, Edinam Atachie, the late Abbey Okine, Solomon Sampah, Dzifa Glikpoe, and the list goes on”. Pusher says the kind of seriousness these actors attached to acting, and the strict training he was later exposed to at the School of Performing Arts, naturally taught him some strict rules of engagement of acting.
The often calm and unassuming actor warmed his way into the hearts of viewers when he played Pusher, a notorious area boy who unleashed mischief, in Ivan Quarshigah’s television series ‘Things We Do For Love’. So, what does this calm dude do to switch to the ‘Pusher Mode?’ Adjetey Anang says he takes time out to critically study his character. “Depending on the demands of the character or role, I’d go as far as going into the community where the character should live to watch what happens there. A typical example was when I was given the character Pusher, which I thought was enormous because I thought I could play the character BB better. But after the director threw a challenge to me, I said look let’s do this in a different way…this is a loud character, a street kind of guy and so to add something to the character I want certain realities that people sitting there could easily identify with.
So I went to sit in a bar somewhere around ‘Jasikan’ towards ‘Chorkor’ just to listen to people and see how they carry themselves around…you’ll be amazed at the things I picked up, which I used to build up the character”. Pusher added that he recently played a psychiatrist in the movie ‘Letters To My Mother’, and that in order to fit in the role, he researched the renowned Ghanaian psychiatrist, Dr. Joseph Bediako Asare. “I was looking for writings on Dr. Asare just to know about him, what people have said about him, what kind of background he’s coming from and the challenges he faces in his job. Information has a way of informing you with what you’re doing, and so it added up to the role I played”, he revealed.
Perhaps jolted by the unexpected nature of questioning, the actor let out a brief laugh when I asked what one role he’d so much love to play. He said “one role that I was looking forward to playing is the role of a saint…one of my great actors of all time is Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal) because of the eccentricity this guy has. In playing saint, who are normally not too loud, you realise that these are people who speak from within their soul…the passion, the intensity even when they’re upset…you don’t have them breaking glasses all over the place on a very consistent basis…but when they’re upset you feel it from in their eyes, how their lips shiver or tremble…their ears sticking out and all that. And I thought that to be able to bring out certain qualities of Anthony Hopkins, who I was understudying for some time, playing a saint would help me bring out these qualities that will be different from the other physical and loud roles I have played”.
Experienced actor Adjetey Anang (Pusher) has been criticised by Ms T-i-i-l-i, a film critic, for accepting roles that appear to be mediocre and that, according to the critic, could compromise his professionalism. When asked what he made of the criticism the actor said “I have always welcomed critics and opinions from all walks of life. One thing that I have done in the past is really to be quick to reject scripts that I thought was below standard and would not improve me. But then I thought that there are so many ills in our industry…time consciousness is a problem, attitude and discipline is a problem.
Now you can’t always go out there and stand on a pulpit to teach these things or call for seminars to talk about them. I thought that there was a gulf between me and our industry in the sense that I‘m always found to be doing the sparrow kind of movie, and people thought I was looking down on their productions. There was a call from my fans to spread out a bit, but I didn’t just heed to their call…I thought that I owed society something. The kind of training that I had from National Theater and School of Performing Arts if I was to put money on it I don’t think I’ll be able to pay. I thought that accepting some of these scripts is not just going in there for the money or the script is so brilliant, but I thought one of the ways in which I could affect some of the issues that we had was to go in there, and find out what exactly went on”. Pusher continued that although he wouldn’t say he’s perfect, some Production Managers and Directors re-adjusted their ways to appear more professional because he’d shown good example. “For me I look back and I haven’t regretted it. I have left something in there that I hope to continue”, he said.
On the issue of how rewarding acting had become, the actor disclosed “I happen to have had a taste of the older generation because I worked under them and knew the kind of lifestyle they were living and what their complains were. So I would boldly say yes acting now is far more profitable than it used to be. The age where it was out of the satisfaction you’ve been able to achieve and not really look to the remuneration that was coming in is long gone. But no matter how you look at it…it takes something away. People are no more really committed to what they’re doing.