"A comedy with a didactic purpose"
by Bénédicte Prot
- The young actor kindly answered our questions, in a distinctive London accent
Cineuropa: How did you join the cast of Welcome Home?
Abdul Salis: Andreas asked an Austrian casting agency to look for actors all over Europe, especially in England, where there are many experimented black actors. I am only twenty-six but have worked on TV-series, and a few features, such as Richard Curtis' Love Actually and Breck Eisner's Sahara. Animal, by Roselyne Bosch, is coming soon and Flyboys just finished shooting. I found the script really interesting because it is not all straightforward and clear-cut. You never really know what is going to happen. Andreas, though, seemed to really know what he was doing.
Indeed, nothing is all white or black in this movie, if I may say. In fact, your character seems the only one who is 100% good.
True. In fact, that was the only thing that could have made me fling the role, but I trusted Andreas and he wanted Isaac to be very likeable, but not in a cheesy way, more in a cheeky way. He is not a boring kind of good guy.
Is this movie a comedy or a political film?
It is definitely a comedy, based on this great vice versa situation. I guess some details about racism and Austria make you hope it is not really like this, but the film is not aggressively political. It is a comedy with a didactic purpose. My parents, who are from Ghana, loved the African scenes precisely because they do not show a stereotyped poverty and famine-stricken population. In these scenes, the locals seem pretty happy, not angry or depressed or eager for money.
What was the atmosphere like on the set?
In Ghana, I was in my territory so I felt comfortable and appreciated the laid-back attitude of the film crew —including about twenty locals. I found shooting relaxing, I was really expecting more stress.
It went very well with the Austrian team too. Surely, the fact that I had a lot of dialogues, all in German, was a difficulty but I catch accents pretty easily so I felt credible as a character who speaks German. In fact, many people thought I really spoke that language after seeing the movie. I don't, but I did not mind the extra effort. This was an international part and I feel like an international actor.