From the humble beginnings of a Japanese horror-based survival video game, to a movie franchise that is still going strong, the people have spoken. Resident Evil is a phenomenon. It is one of the biggest selling franchises in the gaming world and on the big screen, and one of my go-to movie guilty pleasures, because I sure do like them monsters!
Now, I’ve known Bola Ray Olubowale since kindergarten (stay with me). We had orbited each other’s worlds throughout high school, reconnected through a mutual friend after university, and I can say he is truly a life-long friend to me. Bola wears a few hats. At 6’7, he is a professional heavyweight boxer with 3 titles (Canadian Boxing Federation Heavyweight 2007, Canadian/American/Mexican Heavyweight 2008 and Canadian Professional Boxing Council Heavyweight 2012), a trainer and an actor. I had always sent him an excited text when I saw him in Canadian productions, but when I heard he was going to be in one of the Resident Evil movies, I literally squealed. MY friend in a Resident Evil movie?! Double squeal!! I was of course, happy he had landed a great part but even happier that it was in a wildly popular franchise. Oh, and the part? Only the Axeman, one of the coolest characters I have seen in a long time. The movie mutant, based on the Executioner Majini of the Resident Evil 5 game, is big, bad-ass and wrecks havoc in Resident Evil: Afterlife and Resident Evil: Retribution. Bola’s involvement in the film was revealed to me before I started this blog, and since its inception, I have wanted to interview him about his part. I mean, he lives a block away from me, and well, we are friends. Easy, right? Unfortunately, both of our lives became a little crazy, but I have finally gotten him to do a quick Q & A for Rosemary’s Pixie, so here it is!
Pixie and Bola at some dive, just hanging out a few years back.
How did you get bit by the acting bug?
I got into acting some 26 years ago primarily because a girlfriend of mine in high school, who was an actor/model, said that I would be good at it. Being whipped, I did what I was told and the rest was history. I started enjoying acting many years later when I did Phantom Punch, the Sonny Liston story, just before Resident Evil.
How did you get the role of the Axeman?
I fell ass backwards and lucked out like no other. The stunt coordinator for Phantom Punch was offered the part but when the director saw him, he said he was not the right build. He (the stunt coordinator) said he knew just the guy for him and called me. I met the director, and Paul (W. S. Anderson) said “you’re my guy” on sight. I had never played the video game and didn’t know of the movie series prior to my involvement. I had no idea how my life/career was gonna change due to this gift.
What is it like being an iconic horror/gaming character?
This character has opened so many doors for me in the acting world. I have since gotten a few roles without auditioning. I’m totally humbled because it takes some actors a lifetime before they get to that level of success. I’ve been to a few cons and to see fans is also a humbling experience. I met a gentleman who had my character tattooed on his shoulder. Wow, me, tattooed on a complete stranger’s shoulder!
How long did it take to put the makeup on?
It took an hour and a half to get me in and out of the suit originally [and] to change the suit up, and then I was in and out of the “death trap” in 30 minutes.
The Axeman snoozing between takes…
(Photo courtesy of Bola Ray Olubowale)
Did you know about the popularity of Resident Evil and its mythology?
I have no choice but to know of the popularity of Resident Evil now. I’m know in the acting community as Ray Axeman to those who cannot pronounce my last name (in case you were wondering, it’s Olu-bo-wa-ly). I’ve done Q & A’s for panels on Resident Evil and the turnouts are incredible.
Double the Axman pleasure!
(Photo courtesy of Bola Ray Olubowale)
Are you surprised by the love for the Axeman?
I’m more than surprised as to the reception I’ve received since I did the movie. The character is really cool and a lot of fun to do. Smashing things and wielding an axe is every man-child’s fantasy. The character is amazing in the video game and incredibly difficult to kill, so I can see why people gravitate to it.
What’s next for you?
Look for me in the Adam Sandler movie this summer (July 2015) called Pixels.
What is your favourite horror/sci-fi movie?
After Resident Evil, the Hellraiser series was by far my favourite.
Great guy, huh? I don’t say this because I am biased (ok, I am but whatever), but I would definitely keep your eye out for this tenacious hard-working actor. I am positive you will be seeing more of him in the future!
Thanks for taking the time my fine, axe-wielding friend!