Half of a Yellow Sun film, sex with Chiwetel and how you solve a problem like Thandie.

Ndi Igbo worldwide are up in arms.

The Half of a Yellow Sun book by nwa ada Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie has been optioned for a Hollywood film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as ‘Odenigbo’, Thandie Newton as ‘Olanna’ and Dominic Cooper as ‘Richard’. Now, this is good news. How many Nigerian books have made it into Hollywood after all?

But are Igbo people happy? Like heck.

The chief complaint stems from the fact that Thandie Newton is not the right colouring. At first I must admit, I followed to say, because I think Olanna is more Egovin than Thandie, even if the photo above is trying to deceive me. Then it was that she was too skinny, which I didn’t worry about because after all they’ll just give her agidi and that will be that. But then I realised, hang on, my gripe with Thandie lies in the fact that she is boring. She had to be raped by a white police officer in Crash to get an oscar nod (Don’t even get me started on Monster’s Ball with Halle Berry). Olanna is gentle, yes, but she is also strong; ajebo but very Igbo. Can Thandie do her justice?

Let’s not go on about the fact that Ala Igbo will not even smell the cast and crew or the money that comes with them. The closest they’ll come to an Igbotic community would be Kikuyuland in Kenya. I know we’re always so afraid to talk about these things but how come the main actors are not Igbo? Do you know how much the Harry Potter films put British actors on the map? It was because JK Rowling insisted on it. Did Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie try? Or did she just take the money and run? We’ll never know. But we are stuck with Thandie, bless her.

Now on to our brother, Chiwetel and his accent. The twitter wars zoomed in (via @elnathan) on the fact that as a Nigerian, he couldn’t even pull off a Nigerian accent in Dirty Pretty Things, preferring instead to do a generic African one. So how will he manage an Igbo one? Igbo accents are very distinct even with people that speak English very well. I’m not saying that I do but there is nothing I like more than peppering my language with ‘Gini dis’ and ‘Hias’ and Kpokopus’. Brits speak with their accent where it’s called for in films, so do Spaniards, the French…and Djimon Hounsou, don’t get me started. (In fact, Djimon will probably do a better Odenigbo because that accent is tiiiiiick like akamu. Too bad it’s a franco one). So how come that when it comes to doing an Igbo one we getu notin? Let me not jump the gun anyway. Maybe Chiwetel will do a good one and Thandie will copy him and everything will be fine.

There was also some noise about Chiwetel’s apperance and whether he’ll do a convincing Odenigbo since the character is pretty rough-looking. But Chiwetel already had that scar on his face. All he needs is to grow the beard.

All this pales in comparison when you realise that they will get to have sex on screen. Chiwetel is like someone we all grew up with; that neighbour that moved in with his parents when he was about to go off to university so you never really got to talk to him because he was one of the bigger boys but you fancied him from afar and couldn’t say anything because he also had a sister that was your age mate and you got close to her so that you could always have an excuse to come to their house where her brother could maybe accidentally see you in that show belle top that you bought with your mother’s market-money change and you lied to her that it was money that your uncle gave you and she took the shirt and seized it and you took one of your t-shirts and cut it into a show belle top and went over to your neighbour’s house and it turned out that her brother had gone off to the university campus that same day – blah, blah, blah, you get the picture.

Knowing all this, do we want to see Chiwetel and Thandie have sex on screen? Let’s consider the two positions (unintended but it stays):

  1. Thandie is not you (Ewww, I know, you get to watch your neighbour do it with someone else. Wait. How dare it not be you?)
  2. They worked together on 2012 so it might not be that bad. They’ve already kissed, right?

Before you get to choose, I suggest you read the book again. Odenigbo is a bearded Igbo academic. If that doesn’t spell ‘Testosterone’, I don’t know what does. You just know the sex was BEASTLY (watch any of Sir David Attenborough’s predator-prey nature programmes for examples).

Now, do you REALLY want to see Chiwetel have beastly bearded Igbo sex with Thandie on screen?

I rest my case.

Igbo ekelee m unu o.

37 thoughts on “Half of a Yellow Sun film, sex with Chiwetel and how you solve a problem like Thandie.

  1. I believe people that would have an issue with it are those who are used to Nollywood movies, where they are comfortable when actors play familiar roles. In Hollywood, actors go as far as learning an accent and strict training for a role. Thandie makes a living from doing this, it isn’t a big deal…hoping the movie makes it to the big screen.

    Even if it does Nigeria would mess up the Premier by inviting Ministers and Commissioners who do not give a fuck about movies. Instead of fans of the book (which I am not a fan of).

  2. The adaptation of ‘Half of a yellow sun’ into a movie is exciting, but I fear that it is garnering extreme expectation and public opinion such that when it is finally released (which I hear will be in 2013), a lot of people will be disappointed!

    I mean, what law says the cast have to be Nigerian or even Igbo? ‘Hotel Rwanda’ & ‘The Last King of Scotland’ did very well without indigenous cast. These people are actors. It’s their responsibility to learn an accent and portray it just right. I have no fears considering Chiwetel or Thandie. If all/ most of the actors are not Igbo, why must Thandie be Igbo/ Nigerian?

    While I love the Biafran story, I hope we (Igbos especially) will let the producers do justice to Adichie’s depiction. I don’t think she’ll stand by and watch foreigners abuse her award-winning piece.

    1. I think part of the argument was that there are a lot of Igbo actors, if not necessarily Hollywood ones and they should have been given a chance.

  3. LMAO!!!! I just love that paragraph describing Chiwetel without a single punctuation!!! I could just feel the thoughts…
    But on a more serious note, I think they could have dug a little bit deeper for cast members. You were very right about the JK Rowlings argument. The least they could have done was use Genevieve as Olanma or something….She is a tested & trusted pro! She can easily…..oh so easily interpret that role. Even if they do not use any other artiste, that will do.

    1. Nah, Genny’s too dark to play Olanna. I think they should have done an open casting, looked for hidden talent.

      But in the end, I guess they want Box Office hits so you have to go with known faces. It’s not as if the book has sequels where you’d hope to build up the unknowns Re: Twilight, Harry Potter. It’s just the one book.

      1. I think Genny can play Olanna’s rebellious Twin sister. I forget her name now. But on second thoughts, no! Cuz Genny’s beautiful. The Olanna’s twin sister character is written to be ….

  4. I’m not a big fan of Thandie Newton as an actress. She is rather…blah. As for casting more Nigerian/Igbo actors…well i wasn’t expecting it and thus am not disappointed by the fact that they chose to somewhat go mainstream. I assume its going to be a mainstream movie so i understand the thought process behind choosing names that people know internationally.

    Movie sex isn’t real sex (and i’m not really a fan of Chiwetel- even though my mom seems to be lol) so it makes no difference to me one way or the other lol

    1. Thandie is boring isn’t she? And we’re two for two with Chiwetel with the notable exception that he seems 1% more real because Hubs is family friend.

      No. This is not my Kevin Bacon moment.

  5. I love half of a yellow sun! when i heard about this…i was extremely conflicted and did not know what to think… I believe this is what happens when ones country is not developed enough to produce its own movies and tell its own stories. Foreigners come, take the stories and interpret it the way they see fit. I hope this movie will not be told from Richards perspective like they did last king of Scott Land…anyways i will wait and see what ensues. On another note i find Chiwetel extremely attractive…like OMG drop dead gorgeous attractive…what a “shexy” man..Thandie Newton is a big fat BLAH….i am not here for her…ugh

    1. My thots exactly! I mean we have no right to complain when hollywood tell our stories. This book has been out for over 2 years and no nollywood director or producer deemed it fit to adapt into a screenplay! Then we now complain when they cast foreign actors or shoot in foreign countries. Pschew! See how they made money off us with FELA! The Musical. We thronged to go watch! The fact is our filmmakers are LAZY and SELFISH save for a few! We think of money only!

  6. i still dont believe that you need known faces to get a box office hit…Angelina’s new movie about the war crimes in Bosnia is a good example, she could have used known faces but no, she wanted to make it all about Bosnia, make people aware of the situation of things there and its working…re: JK rowlings, she knew what she wanted and she went for it…

    The problem is that Nigerians sway where the music beats loudest….if they have nothing to gain from it then there is no need dancing to the tune….i cant speak for Ms Adichie but i hope she looked at the contract very well before signing it.

    Nigerian accent no be easy thing oooo………No matter how much they try, you cannot give what you dont have, the actors play the role, then they use a software to enhance their voices, unfortunately they end up sounding like south africans more than the native country for which it is intended, which is why they end up thinking that every african is from south africa…..

    Finally, one word for Chiwetel….Muy Caliente….

    1. I see your point, but isn’t the fact that Angelina directed it part of its brand? It’s a known-name film if not a known face. If it wasn’t, maybe the film might not have garnered the publicity it has.

  7. I am excited about turning Adichie’s book into a movie, and seriously i dont care who does it so long as they do a good job. JK Rowlings could call the shots she was already one RICH woman based on the books alone. Chimamanda’s book won prizes, and is just ‘relatively’ popular…lets be real about that. Angelian Jolie is Jolie. her clout will sell a movie. now we are talking about a book not so wellll known, a biafran story not so well appreciated/known even by Nigerians themselves…my dear, we are being done a favour by producers. I say let them make the movie and give voice to a war which many of our generation dont even know about.

    p.s. it would have been nice though to see Rita Dominic as Olanna. she is yellow enough though too long in the tooth :p

  8. I really liked this piece and the issues raised. I’m writing a piece on the Thandie issue and our thoughts are similar in certain aspects. I do not get what the noise is about. The question, for me, is: Is she good enough an actress to pull off the role? If yes, then case closed for me.

    HOAYS is just one story from a vast canvass that the civil war story is, even from an Igbo perspective. If people feel this aggrieved, why not tell other stories with Genevieve or whoever else playing the roles? The average Nollywood marketer is an Igbo man, why hasn’t this been done?

    You cannot refuse to blow your own trumpet and then complain that someone is blowing a whistle on your behalf. We keep accusing the west of not telling our stories properly but we sit on our behinds and don’t tell this stories either. If the people petitioning contributed N10, 000 each, we will well be on our way to telling our own civil war stories with whoever we want playing the lead roles.

    And can we stop calling this project a Hollywood movie? It has funding from BFI and a Nigerian. It is being directed by a Nigerian who is directing is first film. It is not being produced by any of the major Hollywood studios or producers, so why are people calling it a Hollywood film? Because Chiwetel is in it? Hian!

  9. I LOVE many of the comments. Exactly the discussion I had with a director colleauge.Why all the sudden noise?

    The book have been out since 2006. 6 years with all her critical acclaim and global brand nobody did anything. No Igbo producer saw that “Hey this is a great story from our perspective” Nobody!!! Why Were the books not published by a foreign publisher? Why didn’t anyone shout then that it should have been african?

    Has her career not been promoted by the West more than home? Didn’t we just jump on the praise band wagon after They made her famous?

    ‎​It’s a period piece,even if a naija based director optioned it.Would the budget be enough for an accurate recreation of the 1960’s. Do we have art directors experienced in period pieces for film? Replicating the 60’s in costume,hairstyle,set design,furniture,location construction? If we do pls correct me but from what is present in Home Vids I haven’t seen any evidence of such nor does it seem a priority.

    ‎​Which big producer in naija would be willing to stay 3-5 months shooting 1 film? When they are used to making 8-10 in that same period. Which producers have tried to buy the option and have a track record of making a succesful film of this type? This being a story as deep,complex and compelling story that needs historical accurracy on all levels? Once again correct me if I’m wrong.

    And it’s a book of fiction with a historic backdrop,she has a right to do whatever she wants with it. It’s not a Biopic,she created those characters. Has Nigeria supported her as much as the West has? Are we nuturing upcoming writers like her? Or will we allow Britian and The US also take them away, then we claim them once they are famous and cry foul like now?

    Ok, what are producers doing about Purple Hibiscus? What about all the Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe books? Why haven’t ANY been adapted to the big screen yet by home based film makers? After all, they’ve been out for decades?

    Let’s face it. If it HOAYS was directed,cast and crewed here and they messed it up by just shootin in two weeks without attention to intricate character,story,location details. All those patriots here will cry foul and reign abuses on the actors ,directors and producers.

    Is it not about who will take the pains and pay attention to the intricate details ,making the film accurate? Is it not best to make the film with those who can pull it off rather than by who has what DNA?

    Many professional actors do what it takes to prepare for the roles they play.They research, they immerse in the characters. That is what they are trained to do.

    The director is of Nigerian Heritage,so is the lead actor and I heard Farafina is one of the producers
    (still gotta confim) so they have enough Nigerian input (in it in their eyes).

    It’s called “show BUSINESS” ppl. The film has to sell all around the world. I’m pretty sure more ppl in Europe and America have read the book then Nigerians. It’s hard enough for all black cast movies to sell. Do u really think the producers arre going to use unknown faces ? If Spike Lee was directing,Maybe just maybe. Chiwetal has been in Huge grossing films, and critically acclaimed smaller films. Thandie is a better known face than all the name y’all are calling. They have to make their money back by selling tickets. Abi na una go reimburse their investment??? Once again it’s “show BUSINESS” and many Nollywood producer practice the very same thing.Cast a face that will put bums in seats.

    The BFI that put up the money and the team handling it did a pretty
    good job with the Last King of Scotland. Would it have been a better film if a Ugandan was cast as Amin? Who knows.But Forrest did a stellar job so it really doesn’t matter what we speculate.
    Note it’s the Brits making the film not Hollywood. BFI=British Film Institute.

    In the end the lesson is “Don’t Dull”. There are MANY novels that can be apapted. “Things fal apart” is RIPE for a movie outing. Has been ripe for many years. Why hasn’t ANYONE made the epic that it is? So in conclusion I say

    Arise oh compatriots,If u know producers call ,email,Text them. And let em know how you feel.
    Let them buy the rights and tell the stories.

    Abi una go wait till another foreigner comes to tell “your story”? Chikena

    1. Olu, for making a lot of sense, I’d forgive you anything!

      I originally wasn’t aware that it was a BFI production but I have decided to let the term ‘Hollywood’ be because that was the term making the rounds at the time I typed up the piece. Also, it’s the more familiar industry.

      I’d also need to check that Farafina funding. I’ve since known there were Nigerians involved, just didn’t know whom.

  10. I love Chimamanda Adichie’s books and I was glad when I read that “Half of a Yellow Sun” was going to be made into a movie. I agree with “I am a Legend” who said that the book has been out for a long while now and no nigerian producer considered making a movie of it. I’m not particular about which actors/actresses are used. I just hope that they interprete the roles very well.

  11. good point about the j.k rowlings comparison, am not igbo but am pissed by the casting. in my opinion chiwetel will most likely give one of his best performances ever in half of a yellow sun while thandie her worst in recent times after coloured girls. genevieve nnaji is an extremely talented woman, how did a role in that slip her by while thandie gets one she won’t fit into? nigeria has serious inferiority complex issue.

      1. that’s a possibility well. good luck to them, will decide if i will pay to watch it when there is a trailer

  12. Well we tend to group most films from the West as Hollywood,so, it happens. Even indie films shot in NewYork and Canada with no studio money or connection the Tinsel Town are generally classed as Hollywood just cos they are American.

  13. I’m not Chiwetel’s biggest fan, and remember, this is an adaptation and there are no guarantees about the scenes from the book that will make it in 🙂

    I think Chimamanda and her Nigerian backers got a good deal with Biyi Bandele, another Farafina author, as director. BFI probably chose Chiwetel and Thandie. The producers are those behind The Last King of Scotland and The Constant Gardener, both of which I think shot in Kenya. And they always seem to get the best from their cast and crew.

    I wish them all the best and can’t wait to see the movie.

  14. LOL. I love the humour of your post. I have to say I’m a Chiwetel Ejiofor fan. He is a world class actor and I’d love to see him play the role.

    About Thandie? I’m not really bothered although I can understand the argument for a more ‘African’ cast.

  15. One of my greatest problems is that Eastern Nigeria with its thick green bushes and densely populated territories cannot be replicated in arid-like lands of Kenya where this movie is to be shot.

  16. There is also the concern that the “extras” in the movie will inevitably be Kenyans, which means that the extras wont be speaking Igbo or other Nigerian languages (Yoruba and Hausa) that appeared in Adichie’s book

  17. Well, where do I begin. First of all, Thandie did NOT receive an Oscar nod for her work in ‘Crash’, even though many big name critics and entertainment magazines in the US made the argument that she was more than deserving.

    Anyone who doubts Thandie’s acting abilities should rent the film ‘Besieged’. In my opinion, there is not a better actress of color out there. Sure she has played fluff roles, but she has played them to perfection. Thandie is an actress. To suggest that she is not suitable for the role simply because of her coloring is ridiculous.

    So go ahead and keep complaining. Surely doing so will result in more Nigerian films being made. (NOT!)

  18. Thanks for that correction (Thandie, oscar nod).

    As for people complaining about her, it’s what people do isn’t it? Maybe on some level we know there will not be another Nigerian book-to-film for yonksso people want to ‘get it right’ this time. But don’t quote me, I was merely observing the arguments.

  19. OMG I’ve very excited about this good news. This was the first book my boyfriend suggested I read to better under Igbo history (I’m Black American). Like the views above, I hope the movie tells the story well. I could not put the book down once I started.

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