Photo: Producer Matt Palmieri, actor Zubin Cooper, director Sean Penn, actor Jean Reno, actress Adele Exarchopoulos, actor Hopper Penn, actress Charlize Theron and actor Javier Bardem attend ‘The Last Face’ Premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 20, 2016 in Cannes, France.May 20, 2016| Credit: Stephane Cardinale – Corbis
We sat down with Zubin Cooper, for an exclusive interview about his latest project he did with Hollywood house-hole name, Sean Penn. Zubin is a media professional and is an adiv follower and a proponent African culture and its impact on new media. A self-proclaimed bon vivant born in Monrovia, Liberia and currently living in Monrovia, Liberia, not too far from the beach, Zubin has lived in the US, Spain, Cote, de’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and visited many African and Europeans nations. Zubin is currently involved in the running of omuahtee AFRICA media, an AFRICAN media company, and execution of different projects. He filmed, co-produced and patcitapited in many project most centered on his beoved continent in West African sub-region. Zubin believes that media professionals, journalists, filmmakers are mordern day Griots; living historian and storytellers with a duty to record and share what they see, hear and believe.
Scroll down and read the interview:
What role did you played in the making of the movie?
I was an advisor to the production and an actor, playing in the role of Moussa Parleh, an NGO worker and nurse. So I served a dual role for most of the production. Working with the production team looking at sets, script, costumes, casting etc… and also working with the production team as an actor; the other side of the prism so to speak.
How does it feels to work alongside some of the greatest actors in the film business?
The first day I met the actors and the directors I was blown away. Obviously, I was very excited, but also very aware that I had to maintain some professional demeanor, even if I felt like a fanboy. I had known and watched the principal actors and the director for years and to be in the same room and on set with them on a daily basis was a dream come to life.
I learned so much just by watching them on a daily basis. Their dedication to their work and roles; how they seemed to change before your very eyes. It was a professional course in how to make a great movie, right before my eyes. I learned and experienced the best and worst of the pressure cooker that is modern filmmaking and came out as a better person, actor, producer and media professional because of that.
Was the movie plot directly or indirectly related to the Liberian Civil War?
The scenes related to Liberia and Sierra Leone are directly related to that dangerous and unstable period of the two nations ‘histories yes.
People are taking to Facebook and Twitter saying the movie is one of Sean Penn’s worst direction, what’s his reaction to this?
He would be the best person to answer that and you may contact his publicist and team , but as someone who worked on the film, has lived through times such as those portrayed in the film and have a history that mirrors the film a bit. My sister and her husband met whilst working for MSF during the Liberian civil conflict and fell in love and married during that period and are still married 24 years later. The story of Wren and Miguel kind of parallels theirs and it is closer to the truth in portrayal and life than many might think. It’s a very accurate portrayal and it depends on which side of the prism you use to view it.I urge the audience to look at it and go to it with an open mind and enjoy a great film
What other experience did you gain from making a movie alongside Hollywood’s best?
Always be on time; leave your ego behind; it’s about the team; it can all change at any time. To be a great actor and filmmaker, takes guts, courage, flexibility, talent and most of all desire. Desire is key, you have to want it and take it from within yourself, from within the depths of your heart and soul to get it.
What message was Sean Penn trying to get to the public by directing the movie the way he did?
Again you’d have to speak to him, but from my perspective it was simply a, hey guys look at what’s happening around you. We can do something about it. Don’t just sit there do something, after all they are human like us.
What was the total budget of the film and what challenges were face by shooting in Africa?
I have not a clue about the total budget; I wasn’t really concerned about that. I wanted to participate in the making of a great film , which I think we accomplished. Challenges were many. For example in one of the locations in KZN (Kwazulu natal) the valley we filmed in is home to a really vicious tick; bites you once you get sick immediately. No tow things about it. And this is where we were filming the refugee camp. We had all of the principal actors and thousands of extras, and the ticks were loving us. People were getting sick left and right, it was a nightmare. Luckily the cast and crew were very professional and forged on. Then weather, my goodness! We’d wait days for the sun at times.
But I think the biggest challenge was logistics. This was a film that had upwards of a hundred people working on a daily basis, sometimes thousands. You ha d to pick them up, drop them off, feed them, make sure medical care was available, put them in costumes, it was amazing how the production company Moonlighting productions and their staff handled it. The drivers were on time, food was on time, every day for the better part of six months in multiple locations. It was a great job. And it helped in the making of a great movie.
Who are some of the other Africans actor feature?
Great African actors were featured; unfortunately in the film business not everyone makes the final cut. This is why I feel so privileged and can thank God for so blessing me. Also have to thank the Director and producers too and the Editor.
But there were so many African actors, household names in other countries and stars in their own right. The great Tina Jaxa who plays Winnie, a consummate professional who has won so many awards and starred in so many great TV series and films. She is a truly outstanding performer. Sibongile Mlambo, a rising star in Africa and the USA. Versatile funny, gorgeous, gorgeous and sexy too. Linda Sokhulu, another phenomenal actress. My son and daughters in th film Seblethu, Latita, and Asante. The fun and talented Ghanaian axtress Kabuki. Michael Dube of Nigeria. So many others whom there is enough time and space to name, so many talented people, whom the world will experience through this film, no matter the part and many others to come I hope.
Actor Jared Harris, actor Jean Reno, actress Charlize Theron, actor Javier Bardem, actor Hopper Penn, actress Adele Exarchopoulos, director Sean Penn, actor Zubin Scott and producer Matt Palmieri attend ‘The Last Face’ Premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 20, 2016 in Cannes, France.May 20, 2016|
Credit: Stephane Cardinale – Corbis