DAVID GYASI [CARNIVAL ROW]
English actor DAVID GYASI currently stars as Agreus Astrayon in the Amazon Prime Video’s epic fantasy drama CARNIVAL ROW. Agreus is a fawn, a half-man, half-ram creature that shattered the glass ceiling and made a name for himself. The show’s evident themes of immigration, xenophobia, that is not only relevant today, but has been recurring themes in history, plus the opportunity to dig deeper in the realm of Carnival Row and its surrounding places, history and mysteries, are reasons enough for you to watch the show.
In this exclusive interview, read how Gyasi found his passion for acting, his experiences in Carnival Row, and his upcoming role in the highly anticipated Maleficent 2 with Angelina Jolie.
Hi David, what’s your story?
What an opener of a question. I guess my story is that I’m London boy, whose blood was matured in Ghana. Considers himself a citizen of the Globe, with a huge passion for people, animals and the Earth!
How did acting happen for you? Is it something that you wanted to pursue from the beginning?
Ordinarily I’d say no, but I discovered a few years back, that when I gave my first ever lead of ‘African Chief’ in the very prestigious dinning hall of my nursery school in Fulham, something happened! So much so that my nursery nurse advised my parents to put me in some sort of “stage school”. My parents being first generation immigrants were naturally quite alarmed at the idea of their child being anything other than a Doctor, Lawyer or Engineer. Therefore decided to send me to a school that would lead me down a more ‘proper’ academic route. Though the acting ‘bug’ may have laid dormant for a number of years it never went away and was awoken on the stage of Bishopshalt Secondary School where I gave my stellar performance of the three lines I had as ‘Landlord’ in the musical ‘Gypsy’.
Tell us about Carnival Row. What is it generally about and why should people watch it?
Carnival Row is epic, beautiful, human, dangerous, loving & deep! Imagine, if you will, two lands one is full of Mythical creatures and the other full of humans. War ensures between the different human tribes over who will actually get to colonize the Mythical land. The war takes place in the Mythical land rendering it uninhabitable. Forcing its inhabitants to seek refuge in the human land and thus we have the melting pot that is Carnival Row. With this history how in the literal hell do they get on? These are just some of the reasons I think people should watch it.
What was your initial reaction when you first read the script?
I first read the script 5 years ago and was literally dumbfounded. I couldn’t grasp how rapidly Hollywood had been able to respond to current events taking place in the world specifically around immigration and xenophobia. Then my agent explained to me that the script had been written 10 years prior to me receiving it. That when I saw both the brilliance and sadness of the piece. It being so viscerally current you’d be forgiven for thinking simply reactionary but if you look back over history it actually could be shown at anytime during the history of humans interacting.
Now tell us about your character Agreus Astrayon. What is he about?
Agreus Astrayon is pure and simple an anomaly. He is half man, half ram - a Fawn. However in Carnival Row as you can imagine this is not where his incongruity lays as the Row is full of many wonderful, beautiful and intriguing characters. Agreus’ unique qualities stem from the fact that he has smashed through the glass ceilings set before him and defies all logic in appearing to be one of the richest beings in a world in which he seemingly has no right to be. You see Fawns are only supposed to do the most menial jobs and that’s it. It’s near on impossible for one to own much more than the clothes on their back let alone the finest house in the finest area ‘Finestere Crossing’. Agreus does this but how? And how does he manage to stay there?
What’s the best part about playing Agreus Astrayon in Carnival Row?
His storyline, arc and relationships have been a truly incredible treat to explore. However the real joy in playing him has to do with the conflict and tension he holds within his being every day he steps out into the world in which he resides. I think deep down he relishes the challenge of being the best he can be and will do whatever it takes to achieve that.
How political is the show?
That’s always an interesting question as it somehow makes you think if you say yes that this is an agenda driven piece. Let me start with two quotes:
Art imitates Life’. Aristotle.
‘Life imitates Art’. Wilde.
Which one is right or are they not mutually exclusive?
The scene that made me put down the script and call my agent was one of the first in episode 1 where we see a baby fairy wash. This was not long after we had seen those horrific images of three year old Alan Kurdi, a Syrian refugee washing up on the Turkish beach. I read it after this news broke but it was written before?
At points I’m unsure which comes first. In that case does that make it political or just relevant?
Perhaps the quote is:
‘...mimics Art mimics Life mimics Art...recurring’.
You will appear in Maleficent 2 alongside Angelina Jolie. How exciting was it to be in the film?
A lot more exciting than I’d envisaged I had an absolute blast and the scale and precision of the production blew my mind!
How much impact will your character make in the story?
Hopefully he’ll resonate with people. It’s fair to say that he starts out with very set beliefs on how things should be. These are challenged and set him on a journey of discovery/awakening.
Out of all the roles that you’ve played, which one is your favorite so far and why?
Awww man, I can never answer that question. It’s like asking which is your favorite child.
If you were a book, what book would you be and why? (can be a title/genre/type/made-up book)
The book that comes to mind is ‘Cloud Atlas’. The fact that it has so many layers, stories and energies all connected within one cover. Really resonates with me!
Be on the lookout for David Gyasi in Amazon Prime’s Carnival Row and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.