Noel Clarke: Being on screen seemed an impossibility when I started
Actor Noel Clarke has told Sky News he felt a career on screen was an “impossibility” when he started out, and that he is proud his work has helped to open doors for others.
However, the 44-year-old says he does not consider himself a role model – and definitely not famous.
Clarke is best known for Kidulthood, the landmark 2006 film that provided a realistic snapshot of urban teenage life in London like none before had quite managed, and its follow-ups Adulthood and Brotherhood.
He can next be seen on screen in the upcoming second series of his hit buddy cop drama, Bulletproof, on Sky One, which follows maverick police officers Bishop (Clarke) and Pike (Ashley Walters) as they catch criminals in London and further afield, but also deal with every day family life too.
Speaking to Sky News alongside Walters to promote the show, Clarke says he is pleased knowing that as a black man on screen, his work may have helped other aspiring actors from different backgrounds.
“I think we are helping by the very nature of them seeing what we do,” he says. “Ashley’s younger than me but started probably before me – when we started out it was an impossibility. Not just an improbability, but it was an impossibility.
“The success that some of these guys are having now, this just couldn’t happen. So I think by the very nature of the stuff that we’ve done over the last 20 years – and it has been 20 years since we met – people have seen that and it’s opened doors for a lot of people behind us, you know. So I think it definitely is important for us to do that.”
However, Clarke says he doesn’t see himself as a role model.
“I don’t think it’s our duty to necessarily be like, ‘follow me, I’m a role model’ – because I’m definitely not that,” he says.
And they both agree they don’t consider themselves famous.
“Tom Cruise is famous,” says Clarke. “Brad Pitt is famous. Will Smith, Denzel [Washington], they’re famous.”
“Fame is… for me, anyway, is where it stops you from having a life,” says Walters. “But I can. I’m having a life right now.
“I get on the tube, I get on the bus… we’re pretty much still cool to do our thing.”
Speaking about diversity and improving representation across race, gender and disabilities, Clarke says “there’s always work to be done”.
“Sometimes it’s difficult because when you have a vast majority of one set of people, like able-bodied people, they’re not always thinking about the people that aren’t able-bodied. So you have to kind of change your mind-set and get into that.
“Things are getting better, but they’re not quite there yet. But I’m glad to be part of it, one of the people that’s helping change things.”
Series two of Sky original series Bulletproof will air on on Sky One and NOW TV on 20 March, Read our full interview with Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters next week