Interview: Frank Artus Shares Life Story.
Born of an Egyptian father and Liberian mother, Frank Artus came all the way from Ghana to be a part of Nollywood. The fair-complexioned actor came with high expectations and he has not been disappointed, as he has hit gold in Nigeria.
In an exclusive interview with The Entertainer, the star of Heart of a Widow opened up on his war experience and why he so much believes in Nollywood. Excerpts:
I was born in Egypt. My father is an Egyptian while my mother is a Liberian. We are three in number, one girl and two boys. I grew up in Liberia mostly. It was at the age of 12 to 16 that I moved over to Liberia. I stayed in Tanama where I had my high school education; I studied Human Resources in AME University, Monrovia. I also studied Computer Engineering.
My growing up was fantastic. I grew up as an introvert. I wasn’t the type that played with friends. I was only comfortable playing with my toys, and my mum. I was so shy to the extent of not being able to answer questions in the class. I’m not from a poor background. Then, my mum was working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) while my father has always been an international businessman. I think my childhood was fun, not as bad as some people’s stories I’ve heard. Though, I can’t say I was born with a silver spoon, I knew I always had whatever I wanted.
My parents supported me hundred percent; all they needed from me was to make a decision because I had other opportunities of doing other stuff. My mum wanted me to go into her line of business, my dad also wanted me to go into his line, but then I just decided to go this far and they said if that’s what I wanted, it’s okay with them. They supported me.
I went to Ghana in July 29, 2009. So, I started my career from there. The basic challenge I faced in Nollywood is my accent, the way I speak. I was somehow denied playing some characters because of the way I speak. But nevertheless it was a challenge. Because it’s my career and this is what I wanted to do, I tried as much as possible to make sure that I get rid of the accent and speak like others when I am shooting a Nigerian scene.
The real Frank Artus
Artus is simple, humble, intelligent, down to earth, and above all a God fearing person. He is contrary to what you see on the screen, he’s not what you see on screen. I try to do all these things on screen because it’s what people like to see. They like to see it and we do it because it is the business part of our career. It’s not that I fancy romancing, kissing and doing all those things in my film. It is something that I hate doing to the core. It’s not that I like to be aggressive, because the Artus that I am, I can’t even hurt a fly so, there’s no way I will want to hurt anybody. But because it’s on screen, I had to do it.
I remember when I was shooting Heart of a Widow”, I had to stab uncle Ken and then I was doing it with so much aggression that you could see tears coming down my face. If you had seen me you would think that I am very wicked. But I don’t like playing such wicked roles.
On Nigeria women
Nigerian women are beautiful. They are just beautiful ladies generally that’s what I will say for Nigerian women, they are beautiful. I can never compare Nigerian ladies with Ghanaian or even Liberian ladies. Like I said, you have responsible beautiful ladies in Nigeria, likewise other countries. That’s all.
Passion for acting
I always knew I wanted to be a star. When I left Liberia, I wasn’t coming to Ghana to do another thing, I came to Ghana purposely to act and besides that, the passion I have for this business has been so hot and I didn’t know what I was going to become.
How to be great actor
What makes you a great actor basically is creativity; you have to be creative that’s all. When you are creative, you can always learn to develop. You watch other actors on screen, you see them having their fun, but you have to take some things from what they have done, add them to the one you have, mix it up and then it gives you a different kind of flavor and people will like it. When you are constant, you become a character, you become a brand and your acting becomes peaceful in the viewers’ eyes and then they will see you as a good actor, you yourself will know that you are a good actor.
Craziest thing a fan did to me
It was actually a girl who tattooed my name, ‘Artus’ on her hand. It was the craziest one so far that I have seen.
On female admirers
I handle my female fans with care and respect. They go out there to buy my films and keep me ruling. I give them a lot of care and respect except for those that don’t have respect for themselves; those that don’t have good manners. Some might be like ‘okay, I am in love with you’, I will say ‘okay, sweetie, I know you are in love with me, but I am not in love with you right now, just let’s be friends’.
On being sexy
No, I am not sexy. The thing is that I am not a sexy person, but in terms of me being sexy on screen, you know, this is show business that’s why sometimes we pull off our shirts and you see our chests, we go to gym and exercise because that is what the viewers want to see, they want to see you looking cute and sexy and for them you have to look sexy, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be sexy. Looking sexy is the platform to liking sex and most people believe that maybe what I portray on screen is what I am, most people are like ‘ah, that Ghana boy knows how to make love, he turns me on’ but on the contrary, if you come to me, I am not sexy or romantic at all. It is just acting.
On acting nude
Yes, I can act nude in a movie to perfectly interpret a role. I’ve sold my soul to acting, so I can practically do anything. I’ve said this before, I can act nude as long as the storyline is good enough, and the money is worth it. I like perfection. For every movie I do, if it’s not perfect, it should at least be close to perfection. As far as I’m concerned, acting is my life. I’ve given all I have to acting. I shot a movie like that already, it was a standard movie because I had some good actors in it. I shot it last year and I did something like that in it.
Most embarrassing moment
I don’t think I have any.
On being gay
No, I’m not gay. It is just speculation. I have never done it and I will never do it. All the people that are saying it, I say Holy Ghost fire (Laughs).
On being rich
I wish I’m rich. This is just my second year in Nollywood. So, I am not rich but Nollywood has contributed a lot to my life, I won’t lie. They have paid me well. I know what Artus Frank was years back and what he is now so, Nollywood has seriously contributed to my life.
On Liberian war
The war in Liberia was horrible. It was a war obviously and it was not something anybody will enjoy, but we had to live and do everything we could to survive but not to the extent of picking in the streets, begging for alms and killing. Maybe there were days we had to look for food to eat. You know, whenever there is war, there is shortage of food. Did I join them to fight? It was a tough decision. For instance, nobody asked some people to fight but they got up and went for it but for me, I was advised to stay back.
There was this day I was coming with my friends, we were three and we went to look for food. We got the food but when we were coming back, a missile bomb was fired at us. It cut the neck and ripped opened the intestines of my friends. I was the only one that escaped alive.