‘Kate & Koji’ – How Jimmy Akingbola met the funny side of Brenda Blethyn

British actor loves the freedom of improv

Jimmy Akingbola of ‘Kate & Kojo,’ premiering Tuesday on Britbox

Q: How was it working with Brenda Blethyn on “Kate & Koji”?

A: Brenda’s like my best mate now. We had never met before. I’d been a big fan of her work over the years. But we had one lunch maybe three weeks before we started shooting and we just connected. It was so natural. She’s an amazing pro. She’s so generous and she’s so naturally funny. A lot of people see like “Vera” and stuff … she’s done in America but she’s so playful, it’s ridiculous. And she’s so good that everybody has to be on their A-game. But what I love about her is that … she brings that theater company vibe to the whole show. So we laughed a lot, we worked hard, we had fun but it was that thing that we’re all in it together.

Q: You also worked with Jason Sudeikis on “Ted Lasso” How was it keeping up with him?

A: Jason’s comic timing is impeccable. He’s so free and natural, it’s unbelievable. There are times where I realize that I can learn the lines but he trusts you to sort of – I think it’s like music – vibe with him, ad-lib with him. So you honor the script but he’s very open to a bit of improvisation. But if you’re going to improvise with Jason Sudeikis, you need to know your character inside out because he’s just so in it. There are times where you’re like, “Am I talking to Jason or am I talking to Ted?”

Q: So you obviously have to be very attuned to your acting partner in that situation, correct?

A: Yeah, you do. … I always remember working with Dustin Hoffman … and we’re just going off script just saying what we want to say, and Dustin’s like, “Go on, Jimmy. Do it more, do it more!” And so with Jason, when actors give each other the eye like, “Yeah, let’s play,” it’s the best thing ever. So with Jason, as long as you’re honoring your character, you can just go anywhere. … And to do it with someone as skillful and as funny as Jason, it’s a great way to earn a living (laughs).

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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