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Carl Bradshaw: Still going strong

JAMAICAN SENSATION: Carl Bradshaw

HE IS revered as one of Jamaica’s premier actors and he boasts a career that spans over 40 years. And still, Carl Bradshaw has no plans for retirement.

The popular film star, who describes his age as “70-plus,” is famed for his roles in the Jamaican classics Smile Orange and The Harder They Come. More recently, he stepped in front of the camera to play a mystic in the supernatural thriller, The Skin.

Directed by Antiguan filmmaker Howard Allen, The Skin will be screened in London this weekend (July 4 and 5) as part of the Black Filmmaker International Film Festival (BFMIFF).

Here, Bradshaw talks about his latest mythical role, the impact of Smile Orange and his hopes for the Caribbean to launch the new Hollywood.

How do you describe your character in The Skin?
My character is of a supernatural nature – almost like a wizard with ancient know-how. He sees things before they happen.

Your career spans over 40 years. What would you say is your proudest achievement to date?
That’s a very tough question; I’m fortunate that I’ve achieved so much. One of my proudest moments was being at [Jamaican high school] Excelsior as a teacher in the physical education and science department. Also, being in so many films makes me so proud. But my proudest achievement is to be 70-plus and still going strong!

You were a promising athlete in your teens. How come you chose acting as a profession?
I got involved in athletics when I was 14. In those days, track and field was an amateur thing; there was no money in it like there is today. So as I got older, I realised I should diversify my talent and I felt that acting could be the way to go. And I have no regrets.

How does it feel knowing you were in two of Jamaica’s most classic films, The Harder They Come and Smile Orange?
It’s a great feeling to know I was a part of those films, which were two of the earliest Jamaican feature films. It gives me a great sense of pride.


MAN OF MYSTERY: Bradshaw plays a mystic in The Skin

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Perhaps one of the most memorable scenes in Smile Orange is when your character, Ringo (a hotel waiter), bellows at the trainee waiter, ‘Busboy’, to bring him a “plate!” Do people often see you and shout “plate”?
Quite often [laughs]. But there’s another line in the film, which is, ‘Mr Ringo risk him life to save the people dem!’ Those two lines are probably the most prominent and I hear them a lot!

Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of Smile Orange. Are there any plans underway to mark the occasion?
Now that you’ve asked the question, I think I probably should do something to mark the occasion!

You’re celebrated as being one of Jamaica’s leading actors. Does that put pressure on you to live up to that reputation with each film you do?
At all times I put my best foot forward. Each project is different and I think I’ve been blessed with the ability to become whichever character I’m playing. So with everything I do as far as characterization is concerned, I always give it 150 per cent.


CLASSIC: As hotel waiter Ringo in Smile Orange

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Is there anything else you’d like to achieve?
I’d love to see the Caribbean produce the next Hollywood. Rather than just using the islands as scene locations, I’d love for the Caribbean to set up a proper film industry so we can produce more feature films. I would love to see Jamaica and the Caribbean earn the same respect for film as it has for music. The only thing to stop us from achieving that is if we don’t believe in ourselves.

Carl Bradshaw stars in The Skin, showing as part of the Black Filmmaker International Film Festival at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, London N15 on July 4 and 5. Visit www.bfmmedia.com

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