Last year brought us two incredible performances from Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù – ones that announced him as one of the finest leading men working today. In sprawling, brawling TV series Gangs Of London, he proved himself an action star with acting chops to boot. And in harrowing horror His House, he led a terrifying spook-fest that was also a deeply emotional, resonant immigrant story – and having also played a refugee in 2016 short The Dead Sea, these are narratives that he’s found himself drawn to as an actor.
“The story of being a minority in a Western country is not just my home here. It’s very specific experiences that we have as consequences,” Dìrísù tells Empire in the British New Wave issue. “Those stories need to be told not only for us to watch ourselves and be like, ‘Oh, I see myself in that a lot,’ but also so you can understand where someone’s coming from, and empathise with them.”
©Empire / Rosaline Shahnavaz
With a second season of Gangs Of London on the way, and roles in post-war drama Mothering Sunday, Christmas comedy Silent Night, and period drama Mr. Malcolm’s List coming up, there are plenty more sides to Dìrísù for audiences to discover soon. “I can’t say that any of the characters I’ve played is like me to a tee,” he says. “But I can definitely see aspects of myself in all of them. At the same time, I really love watching transformation. So I’m always looking for a role that has nothing at all in common with the real me.”
This month’s issue of Empire is a massive celebration of The British New Wave, showcasing 26 incredible directors, writers and actors driving cinema into a new era. On the cover, you’ll find Bukky Bakray, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Emerald Fennell and Riz Ahmed – and the issue also features major new interviews and exclusive new photo shoots with stars such as Dìrísù, alongside Olly Alexander, Weruche Opia, Morfydd Clark, Jessica Yu Li Henwick, Henry Golding, and Olivia Cooke, and writers and directors including Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Prano Bailey-Bond, Remi Weekes, Kate Herron, Francis Lee, and Rob Savage.