Kingsley Ben-Adir on why he's choosing to not use Patois language after filming Bob Marley

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Kingsley Ben-Adir is known for his diverse roles, from playing former President Barack Obama to playing a Ken doll in the “Barbie” movie. Now, he takes on the challenge of portraying reggae legend Bob Marley in the much-anticipated biopic “Bob Marley: One Love.” 

Set in the 1970s, the film explores the aftermath of an assassination attempt on Marley, showcasing his journey toward using music as a way to unite Jamaica.

Initially, Ben-Adir said he was hesitant about playing Marley due to his lack of singing and guitar-playing skills and not being Jamaican.

“The only thing Bob and I really have in common is that you know, he has a white parent and a black parent, and he’s mixed. So, I just felt like, yeah, I don’t sing, I don’t dance, I don’t speak Jamaican Patois. I, you know … I just want to make sure everyone knows,” he said.

The actor’s performance included wearing Marley’s iconic dreadlocks, crafted by a team over the course of several months. He also spent over a year immersing himself in Jamaican Patois, or English-based Creole. He viewed it not just as a dialect, but as a language, which he said was supported by a team of seven to eight language experts on set. 

“There was a real commitment to the authenticity of how Bob spoke,” said Ben-Adir.

However, out of respect for the Jamaican language and culture, Ben-Adir has chosen not to perform in Jamaican Patois outside the role again.

“There’s a respect that I have for the language where outside of set when I wasn’t surrounded by Jamaicans who were able to direct and help. I just wanted to keep it sacred, you know? Yeah. And the language was the one thing that the studio and the family convinced me at the beginning was going to be the most important,” said Ben-Adir. 

Ben-Adir’s commitment to the role extended to his personal life, as he juggled learning the guitar while filming for Barbie.

“So I was just finding gaps and moments to start, you know listening to Bob and learning Patois and playing the guitar. So as soon as Greta [Gerwig]  called cut, I would just kind of run behind a mojo dojo casa house and do some Patois,” said Ben-Adir.

“Bob Marley: One Love,” produced by Paramount, hits theaters on Feb. 14. CBS News and Paramount Pictures are divisions of Paramount Global. 

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