Noel Clarke: America may have better roles for black actors but I’m staying here to “knock down the wall”

The Brotherhood filmmaker on why he chose not to follow the likes of Idris Elba, David Oyelowo and David Harewood across the pond

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Noel Clarke has had quite a year. Brotherhood – the third and final film in his ‘hood’ trilogy – schooled Finding Dory at the UK box office earlier this month and next week the Doctor Who star will be back on TV screens in The Level, ITV’s much anticipated new crime drama. 

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As an actor, writer and director, he’s had plenty of success on British soil – but unlike fellow British black actors Idris Elba, David Harewood and David Oyelowo, Clarke has chosen not to cross the pond to America in search of better roles when the UK industry has come up short. 

“They’ve all done massively well,” Clarke tells this week’s Radio Times. So why not follow suit? “Climb the wall, climb the wall,” is the response. “That’s how I am. I’m one of those people that sees the wall and I don’t go, ‘Ahhh, there’s a big wall, I’m going to go to America.’ I’m not having this – I got to get past the wall. I wanna see what’s on the other side. That’s how I’ve always been. So, straight through the wall, knock it down, climb over it, go under it. 

“And I’m not saying they’re quitters,” he clarifies. “They have their own career paths. And they are all doing better than me, I guarantee that! But I’ve just never been that person. I’m eating sandwiches over here and they’re eating burgers over there? I’m not having it. I’m getting over the wall.” 

Noel Clarke stars in The Level – starting on Friday 30th September at 9pm on ITV. 

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Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times – in shops and on the newsstand from Tuesday 20th September

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