Son of the Stage: Actor/ Martial Artist, Mark Ebulue, talks RSC, MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and his new film, Kingsland.

Written by Michael Bogojevic ( Solarised Productions)
  • font size decrease font size increase font size
  • Print
  • Email
Since graduating from the Italia Conti Academy Theatre of Arts in 2011 (in it's 100th year anniversary), actor/ martial artist, Mark Ebulue,
has, shall we say, had quite a dramatic and hard earned rise with his acting career. Hailing from London, Mark has seen his acting journey progress from leaving drama training, being a member of the RSC ( Royal Shakespeare Company) and playing Shakespeare leading roles around the UK and the world. ZANI caught up with the actor to discuss Shakespeare, influences and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts).

ZANI: Hi Mark, thanks for talking to ZANI. How did you become involved in acting?

Mark: My dad encouraged me to get into drama school. I had no links or contacts so going to drama school was beneficial to me. My dad always told me that education and knowledge is a necessity for progression.

ZANI: How did you become involved in the Martial Arts?

Mark: My dad was a boxer in his day he taught me a few basic moves and I fell in love with it. I moved away from boxing and experimented with many other forms. In my teens I went to a naval school and they always had different things on: jujitsu on Tuesday evening, wrestling on Thursday, karate etc...I even gave fencing a go; martial arts is a very big part of my life.

ZANI: What was the level Shakespeare taught where you grew up, was it made fun or did it turn you off?

Mark: Me and my dad saw quite a bit of Shakespeare. His work office was quite near The Globe (restored Shakespeare theatre on the London Thames Southbank) and when I was around we'd always try and catch a show. I found it quite boring in schools studying it but I always enjoyed watching it and eventually performing Shakespeare plays.

ZANI: You was cast by the RSC and appeared in the first all -of African origin- cast of Julius did the casting happen? It must have been an amazing experience and working with such a great, experienced cast, such as Patterson Joseph etc, what was that like?

Mark: It was just a normal audition I turned up early and was very prepared. It was amazing. Julius Caesar with the RSC was my first was literally like going to drama school all over again. The cast were a dream; I learned so much from Patterson, Ray Fearon...all of the cast were really helpful. Greg Doran's knowledge of Shakespeare is amazing, I don't think I have met or worked with anyone who knows as much he does. It was a real actor's gift to get that job and I'm always thankful for it.

ZANI: The production took you to many different countries, what are your best memories of it, which countries? Which theatres?

Mark: We went pretty much everywhere in the UK: London, Newcastle, Cardiff and many other cities; we went to the Moscow Arts Theatre in Moscow, which was an experience but I enjoyed New York and Ohio. Our last show at Bam theatre was, I think, the most memorable show I have ever done.

ZANI: The martial arts have many great practitioners: Geoff Thompson, The Gracie Brothers, Dan Inosanto, to name a few...have you had the opportunity to have train with any of these, or, is that something you would want to do?

Mark: I haven't trained with anyone mega famous. I'm currently learning Krav Maga & MMA with a guy called Ricky Manetta who's quite big in the Uk MMA world and trust me is one tough guy. I do travel To the places where a martial art was founded and try and learn from high quality practitioners there, for, example, going to a BJJ class led by Renzo Gracie or going to Thailand and finding out from the locals the best or most respected Thai boxing gyms. It's a great way to see the world, learn cultures and make friends.

ZANI: As we know, martial artists, such as Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme, have gone on to great acting careers, what is the link that binds martial artists, like yourself, to acting? Is that journey pre-planned or intuitevely happens?

Mark: Well I can only speak for myself but my love for acting and martial arts came from my dad so my link/rock inspiration all comes from him. I think 'cause I wasn't that academic and well, my dad was pretty cool, I hung on to all the stuff we did together which was sports martial arts and theatre/films.

ZANI: Chuck Norris said that Bruce Lee and himself would survive in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), would you agree? Is MMA a tough call to participate in?

Mark: Yeah, to be honest Chuck in his day was no push over. I think he'd pack a lot of damage and Bruce lee? I don't think anyone could touch him; 80 percent of fights go to the ground but pretty much all fights starts standing...can't grab what you can't see. Bruce lee was very quick.

ZANI: You have played Shakespeare's great leading characters, Othello and Macbeth, what were the changes you saw from doing Macbeth at a young age, compared, to doing it professionally as an adult? Did you still remember the play from when you did it originally?

Mark: Yeah, things later on make more sense. I guess when your older you can bring more life experiences and intelligence to a role.

ZANI: How do you approach a character, how do you build it? From the Inside-Out, Outside-In or none of them at all?

Mark: I'm all about text and intuition; I think at times I can overthink and analyse and it takes away from a performance... I think I work better intuitively.

ZANI: Your the lead in a new fim, Kingsland, can you tell us about the film?

Mark: About a really good guy trying make a go off a new life but is troubled by his past and certain people around him.

ZANI: Was the boxing aspect gruelling? Did you enjoy it, being a physical actor?

Mark: The running; I loved everything else but the running was tough...was great fun though, relearning certain combos and techniques.

ZANI: Was there the temptation to go Method with it, or, is that the only way you can portray the character?

Mark: Yeah I did. When you do or practice more than one martial arts, you can pick up odd habits that are useful for one discipline but bad for another, so I was back at Peacocks gym for a few weeks familiarising my self with only boxing and skipping, to make sure I look and move like a boxer; you'd be surprised how different a Thai boxer and a boxer move.

ZANI: Which boxing films do you enjoy? Which is the best performance and why?

Mark: Million Dollar Baby still makes me tear slightly, Raging Bull, Ali with Will Smith was really good but my favourite film was Hurricane with Denzel Washington..he really was just amazing in it; lots is always going on with him internally as well as externally in that film and it's great to see.

What ever happen to those Heroes? All those Shakesperoes?...well, one of them is right here and his name is Mark Ebulue...
Mark's new film, Kingsland, will be released in 2016.
Mark is currently in rehearsal, playing Ross in Macbeth, which can be seen at the Young Vic theatre, London, from 26th November until the 16th January. Tickets can be found at

Macbeth | Young Vic
Macbeth. by William Shakespeare. 26 Nov '15 – 23 Jan '16. A Young Vic, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and HOME co-production In association with Lucy Guerin Inc.

Read 5562 times Last modified on Thursday, 29 October 2015 18:56
Rate this item
(3 votes)
Michael Bogojevic ( Solarised Productions)

Michael Bogojevic ( Solarised Productions)

About Us

ZANI was conceived in late 2008 and the fan base gradually grew by word of mouth. Key contributors came from those of the music, film and fashion industry and the voice of ZANI grew louder. So, when in 2013 investor, contributor and fan of ZANI Alan McGee* offered his support to help restyle and relaunch the site it was inevitable that traffic would increase dramatically and continues to grow. *Alan McGee co-founder of Creation Records and new label 359 Music..


What We Do

ZANI is an independent online magazine for readers interested in contemporary culture, covering Music, Film & TV, Sport, Art amongst other cultural topics. Relevant to modern times ZANI is a dynamic website and a flagship for creative movement and thinking wherever our readers live in the world.