Adam Croasdell is a multi-talented and versatile international actor, who was born in Zimbabwe, studied in South Africa and has worked extensively in Britain and the United States. Having started his career performing opposite the likes of Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman at the Royal National Theatre, he moved into television with roles in Peak Practice, The Chase, EastEnders, Supernatural, Nikita, Body of Proof, Once Upon A Time and NCIS.
He's also known for his voice work, which includes: Middle Earth - Shadow of Mordor and Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV and has performed in films such as Werewolf: The Beast Among Us, The Prince & Me 3 and Extraction. Croasdell's most recent role sees him playing "Izzy", a confrontational stand up comic, who tries to uncover a dangerous plot in Hatchet Hour.
How did you get involved in this film?
I knew the director, Judy Naidoo, from my time studying drama at Wits University in Johannesburg. We lost touch for a long time but a couple of years ago I happened to be in a bookstore in Heathrow airport on my way to LA and I heard a voice behind me saying, “Adam? Is that you?” It was Judy.
We ended up having a long talk about where we were at in our lives and what we were doing. At the end of it Judy said she was mounting this film called Hatchet Hour and that she thought she had a part for me in it. We spent several months discussing the project and my character - Izzy - over Skype, and, after doing some rewrites together, got him to a place that resonated strongly with me. Then I jumped right in.
Have you done stand-up comedy before?
No, I had never done stand-up before. It’s a very specific, very specialized talent and I have huge respect for comedians who do it. In my case, I decided at a particular point in my preparation that I wasn’t going to make Izzy a stand-up who goes only for the laughs, but a guy who is quite dark and cynical; more a satirist and a social-commentator. Izzy is a guy who is intelligent and not afraid to make people feel uncomfortable with his observations.
How did you prepare for the role of “Izzy” and where did you take inspiration?
Preparing for Izzy was a multi-faceted process. Firstly, the look for me was very important. I wanted him to feel like he comes from a difficult background and has the scars to prove it. I started growing my hair and beard out and used a nutritionist to lose weight. I worked with the very talented costume and make-up departments, and designed tattoos for him, which sent out a very particular message that speaks to where he’s come from.
Also, I walked around Johannesburg looking like this and interacted with people a lot to gauge their reaction, which proved pretty interesting at times. One of the other influences I used was to dig into the work of the late Bill Hicks, who was a tortured, brilliant man. In my work in the UK and in America, I tend to play a lot of characters who operate on the peripherals of society. Izzy is no exception.
Your South African accent sounds quite natural, I see you were born in Zimbabwe, can you tell us a bit about your upbringing?
Yes, I was born in Zimbabwe and lived there until the age of 13 at which point my parents sent me to boarding school in South Africa. I lived in SA until I was 22, and afterwards I headed out to the UK to work and later onto Los Angeles, which is where I live now.
What was the most grueling aspect of shooting ‘Hatchet Hour’?
The Braamfontein winter! When discussing the project with Judy, she talked about setting Hatchet Hour against the steel grey tones of a Johannesburg winter - which, incidentally Tom Marais - our Director Of Photography - captured beautifully. But starting work on the project, I had forgotten just how cold those Jozi winters can be. Bitter. We did a lot of work in the Magistrates Court and prisons downtown, and it was like operating inside a refrigerator. The endless summer that is LA has made me soft!
You’ve been described as “the love child of Robert Downey Jr. and Hugh Jackman” in this performance (by me)… which actors do you admire or see as role models?
Well that’s a huge compliment. They’re two of my favourite actors. I often get told that I look like those guys. In fact, one trip I was returning to California and as I was waiting in the Customs line at LAX, one of the Homeland Security officers came up to me and said, “Hey, you’re that guy. The guy from the movies.” I said, “Which guy from the movies?” and he said, “You know; the guy with the claws - Wolverine!” I should have just nodded and he would’ve fast-tracked me.
I’m a huge fan of Downey Jr. for his wit and intelligence, and of Jackman who’s completely multi-talented. Other actor role-models for me are Brando, Newman, Streep, Ruffalo, DiCaprio, Sarandon and Brand. Not only great performers, but people who use their platform to make the world a better place.
What was it like playing opposite Erica and Petronella?
Fantastic. Two very beautiful, very talented actresses. Erica is a big star in Afrikaans-language films and Petronella has her own, large following too as a black South African actress. I play Petronella’s boyfriend in the film and I have a deep, love/hate relationship with Erica’s character. It was great to see these two women come together to play best friends in a story that transcends the issues of race in South Africa, in what is now an international, award-winning film.
How do you think audiences will respond to this film?
I hope that they love it. It’s a moody thriller with edgy, eccentric characters. It’s shot beautifully by Tom Marais (iNumber Number) and has a twisted plot and a great score. A great evening of cinema.
What was it like working with Judy Naidoo?
Exciting and also very challenging at times. Judy has a great sense of purpose about her projects. She’s one of the only film directors that I’ve worked with who has managed to build almost 2 weeks of rehearsal into the process prior to shooting, which is unheard of, but which for an actor is an absolute gift. Her talent is for fusing sometimes very disparate elements into a unified whole; Indian influences in the score whilst the audience looks at quintessentially African landscapes; comedy and violence intermingling; empowerment and disempowerment revolving around one another. She has put so much of herself into this film through every stage of the process. It’s hard not to admire that.
Are you planning on visiting South Africa again?
Africa is in my blood. South Africa’s under my skin. I’ll be back.