Along with unrelenting violence, pop cultural verve and witty, campy dialogue, Quentin Tarantino’s films are eagerly awaited for their eclectic casts, which either reignite defunct careers or nurture new talents. Falling in the latter camp comes Jacky Ido, who plays a black projectionist on the Allied side in Tarantino’s audacious World War II film Inglourious Basterds. Yet the 32-year-old French actor from Burkina Faso, West Africa, has already earned a modest following in Europe, thanks to his work as a director and slam poet, not to mention his well-chiseled figure, his beaming smile and a new wardrobe from Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. We caught up with the film buff—seriously, very buff—to talk about his varied interests.
Stéphane Gaboué: You came into the spotlight this summer for your supporting role in Inglourious Basterds, but you’ve already earned a small following in Europe as a poet and director. You’re quite the Renaissance Man. How do you introduce yourself?
Jacky Ido: I’ve been doing my thing for quite a while now, but it’s really Inglourious Basterds that brought a new focus on my career. I’m very grateful to Tarantino for putting me on the map, though I do want to carry on making films with my personal take and bring out my vision in projects.
Inglourious Basterds opened to mixed reviews. What do you make of that? And what did you think about the movie itself? You can be honest, we won’t tell Quentin.
I loved it. Quentin promised a masterpiece and frankly he delivered. The film has so many layers to it that it takes time to acknowledge all of them. It is funny, witty and it shows balls that filmmakers seldom have these days. It’s rare to watch a movie that can entertain us and at the same time convey a strong vision of the world and its difficult issues. Quentin has a position that no other artist has. The movie went number one at the box office worldwide, so the audience must think I’m right.
Rumor has it that your audition with Tarantino turned into a two-hour conversation. Can you give us the highlights?
It was awesome. There I was, talking about movies with one of the biggest influences I had as an aspiring filmmaker. His enthusiasm really knocked me off my feet. I thought I would read to some dude in front of a camera, like it usually happens in auditions, but it was just him. No camera involved. He read the role of Shoshanna and I read for Marcel, and that was it. One of the best memories I had.
This question might sound tabloid-y, but there’s no way that a set with Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Mike Myers and all the other stars didn’t produce funny anecdotes. Would you share any with us?
It really was a bunch of great guys focused on shooting a great movie. Quentin would have screenings for us each Thursday and he would show us some classics from his own film collection. It was crazy going to the movies, having pizzas and beers with all those big stars.
You looked very dapper in Givenchy on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival…
Did I? I don’t know much about the fashion world. I just know elegance when I see it as I like to think of myself as an elegant man! And what Riccardo Tisci has brought to Givenchy is this modern romantic kind of elegance and I just love it. I mean, it suits me. Maybe I’m a Givenchy man.
Where did you learn to speak English? You sound like a native New Yorker.
I have a good ear for language, but English was really my favorite growing up so I got myself into it very naturally, through music, movies and books.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished shooting a movie with Claude Lelouch in Bucharest called Ces amours là. I had a great time on the set. Claude is a wonderful director and he shows the same passion for film now that he had 50 years ago. I’m a film enthusiast, so I felt right at home.