British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir is about to taste global stardom thanks to his leading role in the new Bob Marley biopic One Love — with Prince Harry and Meghan attending the premiere in Kingston, Jamaica on Tuesday night.
Ben-Adir has spoken in interviews about his rise from a tough upbringing in north London to acting success.
One fascinating detail, though, has so far been omitted — which is that for a couple of years he lived in Britain’s most expensive council house.
In 2008, Ben-Adir and his mother were relocated by Camden council from their house in Kentish Town to The Lodge in Highgate: a detached Grade II listed property said to be worth £2.5million at the time. Neighbours included Sting and George Michael.
They were there for more than two years while building work was carried out near their original home, which was used as a site office.
British actor Kingsley Ben Adir plays Bob Marley in the upcoming biopic One Love
The Lodge in Highgate is now rented out for £39,000 a year and is described as a Victorian Gothic masterpiece
The film has its UK premiere on Tuesday and goes on general release on February 14
The Lodge, which boasts barley sugar twist chimneys and gun cupboards for hunting equipment, is a Victorian Gothic masterpiece. It is now rented out for a jaw-dropping £39,000 a year.
Camden council, which owns the property, refurbished it in 2016 and opted to take the commercial rent rather than carry on using it for council tenants.
Some local councillors raised objections to the relocation but Camden council explained that the Ben-Adirs had been placed in The Lodge because it was ‘cheaper’ than paying for a hotel, and added that the place had been used for storage and offices. Mother and son remained after the building work was completed while their original home was restored.
In an interview to promote One Love, Ben-Adir said that growing up he had mixed with the haves and the have-nots at William Ellis secondary school, on the edge of Hampstead Heath.
‘In my high school, I was in classrooms with people who went off to Oxford and Cambridge. And I was also next to people who went to prison before the age of 15 and who are not with us.
‘So there were definitely periods of my life where it was f***ing really dangerous and rough growing up around here. I came out on the lucky side.’
He caught the acting bug as a young teen and went to drama classes; eventually enrolling at Guildhall, where he graduated in 2011.
George Michael was among Ben-Adir’s neighbours when he and his mother were relocated to The Lodge in Highgate – a property said to be worth £2.5million at the time
Sting was also one of Ben-Adir’s neighbours
The 37-year-old portrayed Malcolm X in the film One Night In Miami — and Barack Obama in The Comey Rule — and was seen playing one of the Kens in Barbie.
In One Love, Ben-Adir portrays Bob Marley, Lashana Lynch is Marley’s wife Rita, and James Norton is Chris Blackwell of Island Records.
The Jamaican characters speak to each other in patois, and there will be no subtitles.
Ben-Adir said: ‘I was always, like: “How cool would it be to have a foreign language movie, no subtitles?” It gives this biopic its individuality.’
The actor spent time with Marley’s family, surviving bandmates and friends in Jamaica before filming. ‘Many of the people I spoke to in Jamaica were wary of me when I first sat down. And rightly so. “Who are you, coming over here to do this? Who are you?”
‘I would tell them: “If I was you, I’d feel the same. But I want to try my best to represent this properly.”
‘I told them: “Listen, I’ve grown up with Jamaicans. Believe me, I’m not taking this lightly.”’
He added at the premiere that playing Marley, who died of melanoma aged just 36 in 1981, had been ‘the most beautiful experience’.
The film has its UK premiere on Tuesday and goes on general release on February 14.