The actor enjoys the Nigerian food at 805, has a soft spot for the Gate Theatre and offered up his heart beneath Trafalgar Square’s lions
Los Angeles, where I live with my wife, Jessica, our four kids, our three dogs and our conure parrot called Kiwi. We have six chickens as well — we like an omelette in my house.
What’s the best meal you’ve had in London?
At a Nigerian restaurant in Peckham called 805. John Boyega introduced me to it and we had the best Nigerian food I’ve had in a while.
Where do you stay when you’re in London?
I always prefer to stay in Airbnbs because I have a big family and I tend to travel with them. I always gravitate towards Richmond — we love the parks and the river.
Where would you recommend for a first date?
A summer’s day in Hyde Park with a picnic. I don’t think it gets much better than that.
What is your favourite work of art in London?
I don’t know that it is deemed a work of art, but I’d say Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. It’s a very significant piece of London’s landscape for me because I asked my wife
to marry me at the feet of one of the lions 23 years ago.
Where do you go to let your hair down?
I love walks along the South Bank. Whenever I’m back in town that’s the place I try to go to as soon as possible — it makes me feel Instantaneously like I’m in London. Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre, grabbing a nice hot chocolate somewhere along there — that feels like London to me.
What do you collect?
I am a sneakerhead. I have more shoes than my wife does and I’m proud of it. There is not a Nike Air Max that I will see in a store and not be deeply tempted to buy. I’m not going to tell you how many I have because I will start to feel a little ashamed.
What’s your London secret?
The Gate Theatre in Notting Hill. It is the place I did my very first professional job. It’s tiny, you can walk past it a hundred times and never know it’s there.
Who is your hero?
My professional hero would be Sidney Poitier, I so deeply admire what he achieved at a time when it was almost impossible for him to achieve it. His successes as a black actor in America — and in the world — still stand up today. He remains a North Star for me.
What are you up to at the moment for work?
I’m currently in boxing training for a film I’m doing next year called Sweet Thunder. I’m going to play the boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. It is painful, painful, painful work but my wife loves it because I’m very fit and very toned.
What is the most important thing you’ve learnt during lockdown?
Just how important the key relationships in your life are. I have spent more time with my wife and kids over the past eight to nine months than I ever have because we’ve been at home and I’m so grateful to have them. It has helped me appreciate that I am the richest man on the earth because
I’m surrounded by people I love and who love me.
Who is the most iconic Londoner in history?
It would have to be Jack The Ripper, wouldn’t it?
Come Away’, starring David Oyelowo and Angelina Jolie, is in cinemas 18 December