Wire star calls for more opportunities for black British actors

The US star of The Wire has called for more opportunities for black British actors to stop them heading abroad.

“They’re going where the work is,” said Clarke Peters, who played detective Lester Freamon in the TV crime drama.

“When Britain decides to build up its film industry and compete, then those cats will stay here,” he continued.

Star Wars’ John Boyega and Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya are among those who have won high-profile Hollywood roles after making their mark in UK productions.

Others include David Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King in Selma, and David Harewood, star of Homeland and Supergirl.

Peters, who was born in New York and came to work in Britain in the 1970s, said the trend could be reversed “if Pinewood was where Hollywood is and had the same reputation and kudos”.

“I came here because this is where theatre started for me,” he told the BBC. “I guess I’ve done the same thing, but in the opposite direction.”

Peters’ own reputation on this side of the Atlantic is secure thanks to Five Guys Named Moe, a musical revue that ran for more than four years in the West End in the 1990s.

The show – which features songs by R&B pioneer Louis Jordan – has now returned to London in a purpose-built theatre in Marble Arch, with Peters himself directing.

The show, which began its life in its current form at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in east London, tells of a man with romantic troubles who is visited by five sharp-suited apparitions.

They proceed to set him straight with the help of some of Jordan’s best-known tracks, among them Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens and Is You is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby?

“Why now? Because it’s needed,” said Peters after an opening night performance attended by Elaine Paige, Matt Lucas and his fellow Doctor Who companion Pearl Mackie.

“Have you seen the state of the world today?” he asked rhetorically. “Don’t you think you need Five Guys to come bring a little joy to your life?”

By Five Guys, of course, he means the musical, and not the burger chain with which it shares part of its name.

“I’d like to know who did that,” sighed 65-year-old Peters, who can be seen on the last night of this year’s London Film Festival in dark comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

“If they were a part of this, I might be retiring right about now.”

Five Guys Named Moe is currently booking until February 2018.

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