Hakeem Kae-Kazim (‘Criminal Minds’) interview

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Best known for his role as bad guy Colonel Dubaku in 24, this year sees Hakeem Kae-Kazim return to television with roles in NCIS: Los Angeles and Criminal Minds. Launching his career in British shows like The Bill and Grange Hill, the Nigerian-born actor shot to fame with his portrayal of George Rutaganda in the Oscar-nominated film Hotel Rwanda. This was followed with parts in Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End, Lost, Human Target and Milla Jovovich movie The Fourth Kind. CultBox caught up with Hakeem to find out more…

Your Criminal Minds episode, ‘Corozon’, airs soon in the UK – can you tell us a bit about your character Julio and his story in that?

“Julio is a Cuban ex-pat who now lives in Miami. He got into trouble as a young guy, but is now reformed and helps in his community. He is also a high priest of the Cuban religion Santaria.”

How was your experience working on Season 7 of 24 and also 24: Redemption as Colonel Dubaku?

“It was fantastic! What was also great is I had just moved to America from South Africa, so it was amazing being taken back to South Africa to work especially on a program like 24.”

What was Kiefer Sutherland like to work with?

“He was great, very professional and talented.”

Were you a fan of the show?

“I wasn’t a fan of the show, but I got hooked when I was given a box set.”

You’ve worked on quite a few action-based TV shows and films (24, Human Target, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) – as an actor and also as a viewer, are you a fan of the action genre?

“I enjoy playing in action films. It depends on the film rather the genre as to whether I am a fan.”

Have you had the opportunity to do many stunts yourself and is this something you enjoy?

“They tend not to allow you to do too many stunts, but it is something I do enjoy. I love the adrenalin rush that occurs when doing a dangerous stunt.”

What is your favourite stunt that you’ve performed and the stunt that you’ve been most nervous about?

“There was a stunt where I had to drive a car and do a rapid turn just before a car flips over, that was very exciting and nerve racking at the same time.”

Do you get recognised much in public and what sort of reaction do you normally get from people, as someone who’s quite associated with playing ‘bad guys’?

“I get recognised a fair amount and it’s nice to get told that people enjoy my work. They also can look at me and think “why don’t I like that guy?”, then they realise they have seen me in 24 or Hotel Rwanda.”

Which role are you most commonly recognised from?

“It is a mixture, it depends what is current at the time or what they have seen. It can be 24, The Fourth Kind, Hotel Rwanda, Lost or whatever is on TV at the time.”

You’ve done quite a bit of voice work on video games, including Final Fantasy XIV and Halo: Reach – do you play video games much yourself?

“I don’t play video games myself, but I love the voice over work for them. It’s fun to play multiple characters with different tones and voices.”

Can you tell us a bit about your new role in NCIS: Los Angeles?

“I play an Islamic fundamentalist who is being jailed in the US.”

What’s LL Cool J like to work with?

“Great, he is a really nice guy and down to earth. He is really committed to his work.”

How long do you hope to be on the show for?

“I don’t know how long I will be on the show, but the character is recurring so it will be more than one episode for sure.”