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Why Ian Wright was cast in Netflix movie The Kitchen

ian wright
Why Ian Wright was cast in Netflix's The KitchenJeff Spicer - Getty Images

New Netflix film The Kitchen features a rather unlikely star – former footballer and pundit Ian Wright.

The dystopian sci-fi movie, which is the directorial debut of Daniel Kaluuya, imagines a future London where all social housing has been eradicated, with residents of slum 'The Kitchen' refusing to move out of their home.

Wright’s role is more than just a cameo: he plays Lord Kitchener, a pirate radio station DJ who broadcasts to the struggling community.

ian wright, the kitchen
Netflix

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Co-director Kibwe Tavares explained the casting in an interview with Radio Times, and said that while Wright didn’t have acting experience, he was the right person for the role.

"That role came in a bit later in the process, in the script," he said, "and we wanted someone that was sort of the voice of the community.

"We wanted someone that could really weather The Kitchen through the storms they were going through. And then we started to think about him more in terms of looking at his background, the community work he’s done."

He continued: "He’s quite an advocate for different communities and different people and then that’s a thing that he could build on in finding that as his first acting role."

ian wright
Jeff Spicer - Getty Images

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Wright is a passionate campaigner for anti-racism, diversity and equality, and Tavares revealed that this passion made it easy for him to inhabit the role on screen.

He said: "He’s not playing Ian Wright, but we weren’t asking him to look for things that were outside of him. It was feeding into who he is as a person, like what his belief systems are.

"And that’s why on set, I think it was very comfortable and easy for him to find, and for us to work with him. It wasn’t like playing make-believe… he could understand the emotions and where we were coming from."

The film stars Top Boy’s Kane Robinson as Izi, and also marks the acting debut of 14-year-old Jedaiah Bannerman, who plays young resident Benji.

The Kitchen is now available on Netflix.

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