*Before the modeling, the big Hollywood career and the iconic turns on “Oz” and “Lost,” Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was on the verge of becoming a lawyer in his native UK.
Born in London to Nigerian parents in 1967, the actor received a Master of Law from University of London’s King’s College. But the profession, as it turned out, was not his passion. And unlike most people who are currently trapped in a career they once thought they wanted, Akinnuoye-Agbaje stepped out on faith and decided to follow his heart.
The road to Hollywood first meandered through Milan, where he put his chiseled features to work as a successful model. Soon, Akinnuoye-Agbaje worked his way to Los Angeles and in 1994 began in earnest the Hollywood shuffle.
He landed bit TV roles in “Red Shoe Diaries” and “New York Undercover,” but it was the 1995 film “Congo” that got him noticed among casting directors. The role led to bigger parts in such films as “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls” and eventually the character that has become his most popular – the drug-addicted killer Simon Adebisi in the HBO prison series “Oz.”
That role most certainly paved the way for cushy big screen appearances in “The Mummy Returns” and “The Bourne Identity,” as well as his last TV role as Mr. Eko in ABC’s hit drama “Lost.”
Imagining someone other than Akinnuoye-Agbaje as these colorful villains is nearly impossible – but it was close to being a reality had the actor been too afraid to abandon the law degree that he spent so much time – and his parents’ money – to achieve.
He elaborates below.