Interviews

Interview with Rolan Bell from the musical “The Harder they Come"

Written by Xavier Murphy

This month we Interview with Rolan Bell from the musical “The Harder they Come”.  Rolan plays the lead road in the musical adaptation of the film “The Harder they Come”. The musical opened in London in May 23, 2008 and recently made its way to America in August, 2009. Rolan has gotten rave reviews from his role. He took some time from his busy schedule to answer some questions for us

Q: Are you Jamaican by birth or by descendant?

By descendant.

Q: Tell us about growing up in London with Jamaican parents?

For myself it just comes as the norm, it’s all I’ve known. I guess you could say it’s just the same as it would be for any other child, except you get a strong hint of the Jamaican culture.

Q: Do you think this background prepared you for the role?

Definitely. I grew up listening to Studio One reggae and love it to this day. Imaginatively, I have a strong connection to the Jamaican lifestyle, whether it be the music or day to day living.

Q: How is your Patwa? Did you have to brush up on it for the role?

 No, brushing it up wasn’t really the thing. Funnily enough, it was more about tuning it down so that it could be more understandable for people that aren’t used to the dialect.

Q: How did you prepare to play the country “bwoy” Ivan?

To be honest, I just threw myself at the project with open arms, an open heart and an open mind. I thought the best thing I could do is just believe in myself as Ivan himself does.

Q: Did you get any tips from Jimmy Cliff on playing Ivan?

No, I didn’t. He seemed to enjoy what I was doing, so I thought I would continue doing what I do, but keep striving to improve every step of the way.

Q: Compare playing Ivan on the stage to the Ivan we saw in the film?

Those that have seen the film can expect to see similarities; however, a character on stage does need to be more obvious with characteristics.

Q: Did you feel you had to duplicate what you saw in the film or did you the directors give you the freedom to be creative with the role?

I never felt as though I had to copy what I had seen. I just trusted in the belief that I was cast for certain reasons and went with it.

Q: How do most of the audiences who have seen the play react to the music?

They love it.

Q: The Harder they Come the film is not familiar to the younger generation. Do you think musical helps to bridge this gap?

 Yes, I think it does, as the music is still being heard on the radio and in other places.

Q: Do you think the musical has the potential for Broadway?

Definitely. The Harder They Come has been well-received everywhere and I believe Broadway would be a great place for it.

Q: Will someone see the musical be interested in seeing the film?

Many people that have come to see the show multiple times have said they watched the film after seeing the musical – so, yes.

Q: How did you become interesting in acting?

I’ve loved acting since I did a few plays around the age of nine. By the time I was 12, I decided I wanted to be an actor.

Q: How many other musical/plays have you been in?

 Three.

Q: Were you the lead in any of these plays/musicals?

Yes:

Husky Miller – Carmen Jones (principle)
Scar – The Lion King (principle)
Ivan Martin – The Harder They Come (lead)

Q: What black actor do you look up to?

 Wesley Snipes.

Q: What film did you like this actor in?

 Blade 2.

Q: Are you working on an album?

 No.

Q: I am sure the ladies want to know this. Are you single?

 No.

Q: Do you keep up with the Reggae? Apart from the songs in musical what is your most played reggae song in your ipod or mp3 player.

 I’ve got loads of Studio One reggae. Alton Ellis and The Heptones, too.

Q: What annoys you the most being an actor?

 Not being able to plan far ahead in life.

Q: What do you enjoy the most?

 Learning so many different things.

Q: How did it feel the first time someone asked you for an autograph?

 Strange.

Q: Thanks for the interview?

You’re welcome.

About the author

Xavier Murphy