Nollywood first-rated actor, Jim Iyke was away from the movie scene for a while but returned suddenly with his debut film, “Bad Comments”, as the executive producer, which he said is deliberately out to make a statement. He spoke with MARY NNAH during a private screening of the film in Lagos on why he was away from the limelight for a while and the inspiration behind his new movie which is to address the menace of online trolls and the consequences
You were away from the limelight for a while and then suddenly you came up with ‘Bad Comments’. Tell us what happened?
I just felt at some point in my life that as you get older, different opinions and stands in life take place. I felt at some point in my life that I needed to take a back stage.
You find out that you have lived a certain life in the pursuit of not only happiness but in pursuit of a lifelong career that you would not sacrifice for anything, basically.
Of course there was also the narrative of the reality TV Show I was shooting then that obviously delved into my personal life on a day to day basis. I had my son at that time, and I felt it was grossly unfair to him to expose him to that lifestyle. I also understood that the demands of the job will not allow me to be the kind of father I have always dreamt to be, so I took two years off the Nollywood scene.
I have never sacrificed for anything in my life; I just woke up one day and realised that I got into this job when I was barely out of my teens but one thing that has always been my mantra is leadership. I have been groomed to be a leader; I train myself to be a leader. I attended all the leadership conferences I possibly could but I have never really trained myself on how to be a follower. I was totally deficient of what it means to follow or sacrifice for anything. My son taught me how to follow; my kids taught me how to be attentive to their lives and it’s a full time job. I think you can’t sacrifice a better part of all your life without being able to afford two years for the first start to lay the foundation for your kids. That’s what I wanted to do. It was one of my visions in life and I felt that I had the resources and the mind space to do it and I did it for my kids. It is really that simple. There was no complicated reason for my absence.
You have always been seen as a tough and arrogant character in movies but in Bad Comments, you are portrayed differently. Who is Jim Iyke?
We are evolving beings. That is what we called revolution in every sense of the word. For me, the person I was two hours ago is not the same person I am standing with you right now. My elevation is to constantly seek knowledge and embrace truth.
I have been totally unbiased about how knowledge comes to me. Many times, I’m sitting in a car with my driver – my driver is slightly a decade older than me and this man gives me more advice than some of my business partners because this is somebody that sees me when I wake up, he sees me when I leave. He has come to understand my temperament, how things work, and he is a deeply knowledgeable person. When he says, you didn’t handle that one well Oga, I take it cool. Sometimes I ignore him, but I find in him far more solid advice than associates that have ulterior motives telling me what they tell me.
Sometimes I throw tantrums at my house keeper, he comes back to me and explains certain things to me … this is somebody that deals with my inner caucus, deals with the environment that I live in, understands what is being said about me. So you have to take advice from different spheres of your life. I think that is one potent lesson my father taught me. I have seen my dad listen to business associates and to people that worked for us and he never devalued anybody’s opinion. I think perhaps that is one of the biggest and most potent weapons that I have in my life – I’m not discriminative of where good advice comes from.
You are a man that is highly misunderstood as an actor. How do you feel about that?
In misunderstanding me, it also gives me credence to certain mysteries that I have enjoyed over the years. I like being misunderstood. I just don’t like being disrespected. Being misunderstood is fine, that means we can have a conversation. We can change perspective at any time. Being disrespected is a whole different ball game and I think that’s fine, people are afraid of being misunderstood, I’m not. I like it, it drives conversation, it drives narratives, it offers perspective and I think that’s how life should be.
You have had bad press in the past, how does this make you feel?
Yes, I have had my share of horrible press. You cannot make a difference in anything in life if you are not open to criticism. First, don’t forget we are not schooled along what we expect in being famous and handling fame. We did a little bit too much that earned us the bad reputation, one, I can say that for myself, that I could not conduct myself in the best decorum in those days, but as you get older you understand yourself, your pattern and the people around you, the responsibility they entrusted to you, it’s no small gift to influence people, so you owe the world a certain responsibility whether we like it or not. We refused that responsibility along the way but once you embrace it and you understand there’s no need to exist in that world, and that you come into the world, to do what you have to do and go back; it becomes easier. That is basically what I do these days. It’s about my businesses, about my family, about my mental health at the end of the day, and every time that I have to come here and do what I have to do, I do. I have given about a decade and half of my life. I have been doing this since I was barely 20, so I have earned the right to come and go as I please. Every time I feel that I have a contribution, I have something to say, my voice, I believe, in my earnest awareness, is permanent in the sands of time of this establishment. I come here to say what I want to say and go back to the world that keeps me grounded, that’s how I live my life right now.
From the looks of things, “Bad Comments” appears like an avenue through which you want to lauder your image because your role here is totally different from what people know you for. Or what exactly is the inspiration behind your involvement in this?
The inspiration for this is simple. I wanted to make a statement. I wanted something that everyone can relate to. That’s the truest and honest answer. In order to make a statement, I wanted some things that everybody can relate with.
The common denominator between the old and the young is the internet space and so we wanted to create a story that revolves around that lifestyle and that space. I just wanted something that we can all look at from every spectrum and identify with.
Again, I wanted to do this because I came to a certain point in my life when I begin to question where I was heading to in the next phase – I didn’t understand where I was heading… and no matter how gifted and how good you are at something, at some point you begin to question if this is the singular purpose you’ve been birthed for. You begin to question if this is for you. And I asked myself that question. Is it the space – this art form that I would be identified with? Is this the legacy I will leave on the sands of time for the rest of my life? Is this what my children will remember me for? And truly at that time, the answers were all in the negative. So, I dusted what I went to school for; I brushed up my contacts and I asked myself again: As much as you love this, has this met all the financial needs, dependencies and height that you hope to get to? Again, the answer was in the negative. So I decided to take a bold step, I decided to move forward and I left the industry behind and went into mainstream business. We tried, we failed but we succeeded more than we failed and to God be the glory, a lot happened that stood us really well in life.
So, one day I was coming out of a meeting with my sister, who happens to be the managing director of one of my establishments and she said, “Is this it for you?” And said, what do you mean by this is it for me? And she said, “Acting is done? And I said yes, acting is done. And she said, “Lair!” I knew what she meant when she said “Liar.”
You see, acting is my first love, my first child, my first million, my first failure, my first heartbreak but at the end of the day this was practically the easiest thing that came to me. The easiest gift God has given me and I knew that I wanted to do something about it.
No matter the kind of cheers and financial liberty that you enjoy, as you get older, you would find out that you are extremely good at other things as well – something will come very easy to you and you would be glorified for something. So, this was it. And I decided that I was going to make a statement. “Bad Comment”, is that statement. “Bad Comment”, is simply the best work I have done in my entire career.
Bad Comments, depicts the story of a typical everyday life on social media where people come under the pretence of fans to troll celebrities and public figures with negative vibes and bad comments.
This is an approach to a narration that it is seemingly every one of us that has passed through. In other words, no one present here has not found themselves in this space either as a troll or a victim. I felt I should tell a story that cuts across every divide and that will affect and touch everybody irrespective of where you stand. Yes, personally of course I have been affected. Nobody tells a story that is not similar or familiar to them. I told a story from my point of view.
It’s really uncanny how this started. We were sharing a common experience as individuals while shooting the movie “Merry Men 2” at Hilton, Abuja and we were going back to our rooms and we were sharing something on social media where someone said something really bad about his kid and I thought what kind of person is this that will say something this annoying about a child. That means he was in a horrible state. That was my opinion.
I have always thought that there were certain trolls that we all have suffered and believe me, trolling is a horrible experience, some people have lost their lives in this regard. So, I think it is one of those subjects that has not been discussed or dealt with enough.
People can wake up, because of their insecurity and their failures in life, project so much cruelty and hate for apparently no reason. And people have taken their lives while other have attempted suicide of all sorts in different nation, as a matter of fact, it is on the rise and yet people think this level of mental illness is something that shouldn’t be discussed. I do not think so. We’ve all dealt with it to various degrees and different divides. So, “Bad Comments”, was what it was about.
I wanted the members of the press to have a first look point of view. I am not afraid of criticism as you know. I am not afraid of failure because in failure lies success. What I did was to create the best possible film that I can. It is so good that a certain compatriot of mine chose to take it to Times Square in New York, where it ran for two weeks at the billboard. So, it is beginning to grow in leaps and bounds as we go but it was really important to me. I bring it home first of all for my people to see and appreciate it for what it is.
It is a movie that everyone can relate to, even my 6-year old son and my 98-year old grandmother can relate to it.
The internet space is a common ground for all of us. So, I needed to create a movie about that space, about that narrative and about that relative experience that all of us can take away. Everyone out there is represented in “Bad Comments”.
There is nobody sitting in this room that has not found themselves in this space either as a troll or as a victim. So I felt I should tell a story that cuts across every divide and spectrum that will touch and affect everybody irrespective of where you stand.
What informed the choice of cast?
Basically, we needed to narrow down our options for the budget, and I had to draw the crew from many parts of the world to make this happen. Being away from the space for a while, I found out that there have been certain grooves in certain sectors that I was very unfamiliar with. I brought in four producers to work on this project for me and they found me who is “Hot Stuff” right now and I said okay. Everybody auditioned, I saw it and when we set forth our vision we decided that the way to go was to place the square pegs on the round holes. I never did anything that was typical of any actor that I brought on board. I would ask them traditional questions like what have they done? They showed me the backdrop of what they have done and I would say switch it. If you see the movie you would find out that a wide array of cast played roles that the public space was quite unfamiliar with. It is very interesting.
I thought, creatively, to switch it up a little bit; get people uncomfortable and then in discomfort, you find your place and identity… There is nothing usual about Bad Comments, I can promise you that.
When is Bad Comments hitting the market?
It will go live worldwide on August 27, 2021.
What lessons has life taught you as a person?
One thing I have learnt about life is, the more you mind your business the more peace you have. And seriously, it is really not rocket science. Immediately I became deaf, dumb and mute to whatever happens around me and focused on my family, my friends, my immediate support system and most of all myself, my life became far less complicated. I’m not trying to knock the guys that like cliques, that is like the entourage, that like to move in a certain way, I mean, to each, his own but I’m trying to tell you that if your being different, is what your success is totally dependent on, find your peculiarity. My peculiarity is in the quiet space, another person’s peculiarity could be in the noise. There are people that thrive in that space of noise, gathering and so many people; it’s not my mantra, so to speak. I chose my path and made my path comfortably and that’s really how life should be.
You are fond of wearing sunshades. Is it a fashion statement?
Well, I’m a little shy. I think most actors are. Most creatives are. Once you are removed from the space, it’s like fish out of the water. So, my shades have become far more a coping mechanism than a fashion statement.
You are good looking and you are a man most women would want to have. Tell us, who is the lucky woman?
You are delving into a very personal ground which is okay. Like I said, I don’t celebrate my personal life. My partner is also a very quiet, conservative but highly intelligent person. She totally does not have any say in the limelight because at some point I understood the implicity – I understood that it is simple arithmetic. You are out there, the focus is on you; find somebody that there is no focus on but meets your intellectual, physical and spiritual value; and settle down. We of the act are out there… Now I’m not trying to knock anybody’s relationship but I’m telling you, honestly, as a person, how it worked for me. Someday of course, you are going to find us on the covers of magazines; somebody that is smart enough to put one or two together and figure it out but then you have to cross a few continents to find out.
Bad Comments is a fast-paced fusion of drama and thriller, with a blend of momentary comedic reliefs. Inspired by true-life events, it mirrors the life of celebrities and how their careers can be at the mercy of propaganda circulated by social media trolls.
Osas Ighodaro, Sharon Ooja, Chinwetela Agu, Patience Ozokwor, Ruggedman, Ini Edo and Timaya, among others.
Download, watch and enjoy Bad Comments Nollywood Movie now!
Watch Trailer video
Our team will try and get the movie August 21st which is the leased date