Cyril Ikechukwu Nri is a British actor best known for playing Superintendent Adam Okaro in the police TV series The Bill. then later as chief superintendent, in the long-running ITV police drama. He also had a role as Graham, a barrister colleague of Miles and Anna, in both series of the cult BBC TV drama series This Life.
Nri in The Bill
Nri studied Drama at the Bristol Old, Vic which was followed by acting at The Royal Shakespeare Company where his first role was Lucius in Ron Daniel’s 1982 production of Julius Caesar. He played Ariel to Max Von Sydow’s Prospero in Jonathan Miller’s 1988 production of The Tempest.
In 2008, he starred alongside other former The Bill favourites Philip Whitchurch and Russell Boulter in an episode of BBC1’s Waking the Dead. More recently his credits have included This Life (1996), Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019) and The Witches (2020) and more. He is currently starring on stage at the Young Vic in Further than the Furthest Thing playing until 29 April.
In 2009, he appeared in The Observer at the Royal National Theatre.
1. What made you decide to go into acting?
It was sort of a happy accident. I was at secondary school and I was cast as the lead in The Threepenny Opera. But turned out that in fact that the drama teacher showed me that I could use drama to express and answer the big questions that I didn’t, or couldn’t face in my own life. Then I was hooked.
2. What has been your most memorable role to date?
They are all memorable. Ariel in The Tempest, Cassius in Julius Caesar, Sheldon in Trouble in Mind, Lance in Russell T Davies’s Cucumber. Who could start separating? They are all my children; I love them equally.
On stage now in Further than the Furthest Thing
3. What have been some of the positive changes to the industry that you welcome in the last 10 years?
I’m not always the only Black person in the cast. And I occasionally get to tell stories that are specific to my community’s lives and they are as universal and far reaching as all stories have ever been. They are about human beings and not about a colour of human being.
4. Who inspired you growing up in the acting industry?
Poitier. Norman Beaton. George Harris.
5. Tell us about the motivation for your character in Further from the Furthest Thing
The script. All motivation starts with a script. Outside of that, I used a bit of my father, who tried to protect and help his community throughout his life, upheld traditions and sought solace and balm in God. But in protecting the many of his community he had to let go of the few who were his nearest and dearest.
6. What did you like about the script?
Its lyricism and its sparse yet beautiful storytelling.
7. How would you say the story resonates with the now?
Fear of the outside. The volcanic destruction of community by capitalism. If there is a God? Why would They make people go through the stuff they do?
8. How do you approach each acting role?
If its theatre, I read the script, I turn up at the rehearsal room (hopefully 10 minutes early) and I try and play like I did when I played “cops and robbers”, “doctors and nurses” or “journey into outer space” at the age of nine in the school playground.
9. Which do you prefer stage or screen?
Stage is a crucible that you get to explore and change every night of production. I like screen plays better (generally) the intimacy between you and the camera.
10. Outside of acting what is something you love doing?
Riding my motorbike.
11. Where do you call home?
It changes. London, New York. Barbados, Nigeria. Still searching for the bluest sky.
Further than the Furthest Thing is at the Young Vic Theatre until 29 April. www.youngvic.org