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Live for Films catches up with former Gladiator Mark ‘Rhino’ Smith – now starring in Idris Elba’s Yardie

Mark Rhino Smith first catapulted onto UK television screens in the hit ITV series Gladiators. Following his five-year reign on the show as ‘Rhino’ he firmly secured himself as a household name, and as the most exciting talent to emerge from the landmark show, before he switched his talents over to acting.

Mark officially caught the acting bug in 2005 after being invited to read for Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, and further television UK credits include Eastenders, Robin Hood, and Lynda La Plante’s Trial and Retribution.

In 2008, Mark moved to LA, crossing over to US TV and starring in shows such as Criminal Minds, NCIS LA, and most recently Agents of SHIELD. He soon made the leap to the big screen, when Ben Affleck personally cast him in Argo, after that he then went on to voice Officer McHorn in Disney’s Zootropolis, and acted alongside Sylvester Stallone in Creed, Kevin Costner in Criminal, Dr. Dre in Vital Signs and Antonio Banderas in Security.

Mark’s upcoming releases include Netflix’s zombie thriller Day of the Dead: Bloodline, and Idris Elba’s directorial debut Yardie, which will premiere at Sundance 2018. Having enjoyed our time with Mark last year, Live for Films was keen to check in with him and find out more about ‘Yardie’.

Hiya Mark. It’s good to catch up with you again. How have you been?

Hi mate, been really good thanks. Work has been good luckily!

We saw the trailer for your new version of Day of the Dead last week, and it looks cool. Are you excited for everyone to see it?

Yes, excited for everyone to see DOTD, it was a bit surreal being on set with the zombies. I enjoyed the experience, it’s the first time I worked in this genre.

Idris Elba and Mark Smith

I take it your new film – Yardie – is zombie free?

Haha, yep, them Zombies are NO joke.

Can you tell us about the movie, and your character: Raggz?

The movie is an adaptation of the 1993 novel by Victor Headley, set in Jamaica and London. My character Raggz is one of the Jamaican gangsters. He is dark, vicious and he enjoys the game.

Yardie is directed by the indomitable Idris Elba – how did you find him as a director?

I have known Idris for a long time and have been lucky enough to work with before. I have so much admiration and respect for him. He kept his calm and was voracious about keeping the authenticity of the movie. It was an absolute joy to be directed by my mate Idris.

Is it different working with directors who are/have been actors themselves? And if so how?

Yes, it is slightly different working with directors who have been actors before because they totally get it from an actors perspective, and give you a bit more room to explore the character you are playing.

Were you already a fan of the book the film is based on?

I was a fan of the book before auditioning, it’s such a great story.

Yardie is set in the 90s – what was it like working on a period film? Did the fashions, tech, cars etc. bring back any memories?

Working on a period drama which I can totally relate to – with the reggae music, clothes etcetera – brought back so many fond memories.

Whom did you spend the most time with on set?

Mostly I spent time with my good friend Aml Ameen, who really did an epic performance.

Was there any particular research or preparation that you did for the part?

I grew up with a strict Jamaican grandad and the music and friends, so I really tapped back into that, and I also watched old Jamaican gangster films to get the vibe.

Are you a fan of gangster movies, and do you have any particular favourites?

Yes big time! I love the Godfather films, Goodfellas, Marked for Death, and the Jamaican classic The Harder They Come.

Without spoiling anything, did you have any favourite scenes to shoot?

My favourite scene is when I have a run in with Aml…

Yardie will be playing at Sundance – will you be there also?

Yes I will be going to Sundance with the film. I’m very excited as it’s my first time.

What are you up to next?

I have a few things in the pipeline, but I’m most excited about a film called ‘The Outpost’, which I am co-producing with Millennium films and also starring in. It’s about a group of US soldiers who take on hundreds of Taliban fighters in Iraq.

Great – we’ll look out for that one. Thank you for keeping in touch, all the best.

Thanks, Alan. All the best, mate.

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