Rising actor Marlon Kazadi (Riverdale, Ghostbusters Afterlife) teased his role in Chained, a psychological thriller also starring Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing, Snowpiercer).
Prior to Chained, Marlon Kazadi played the recurring role “Malcolm Moore” on The CW’s hit series Riverdale. He will also be appearing in Ghostbusters Afterlife, alongside the original cast members Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver.
Chained was written and directed by Titus Heckel, while the film was produced by Rachelle Chartrand of My Precious Pictures.
Read Marlon’s interview with Courageous Nerd below, or check out the full audio version on YouTube.
Welcome, Marlon and thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
Marlon Kazadi (MK): Thank you for having me.
In your relatively short acting career so far, you have appeared in film and on television. Who or what initially inspired you to pursue acting as a career?
MK: Actually, it wasn’t really me who got myself into acting, it was my Mom. She noticed since a very young age how much I enjoyed myself every time I would watch a movie, show or cartoon. Every time I would watch them, I would play those characters. She decided to get me an agent and after that, the agent submitted me for a role on an ABC TV show. I went into the audition, had fun, did what I did at home.
When I heard I got the role, they told me not too long after, I was happy and excited. I even remember I started jumping around the house because I got it. I also remember that my Mom was a bit nervous and worried. At that moment, I didn’t have any type of acting experience or training. She was worried I wouldn’t do good on set or get nervous due to all the crew watching me.
That was my first principal role on set. I didn’t care about the crew, I didn’t care about the camera. I just had fun and came there to do what I came to do, my job. I was able to do a good job on set. That was the day my Mom realised that I had a natural talent for acting. I was able to do that without any training or experience and could have a future in this line of work.
For some reason at that age, I was more focused on being a soccer player. That was the dream I always had, since I was little. When I look back on it now, I find myself ridiculous for thinking about doing soccer. So, I took a break from acting just to focus on soccer. During that break, I realised that I missed acting. It was truly something I enjoy, more than soccer. So, I decided to ask my mom if she could put me back and she said yes. I got back into it and I’m still doing it now. I’m very glad and truly grateful for the support I’m getting from my Mom and Dad.
Your new film Chained, written and directed by Titus Heckel. How would you describe the premise for anyone who is unfamiliar?
MK: Chained is about a 13-year-old boy named Taylor (played by Marlon) who has an abusive father named Pete (Adrian Holmes). Taylor also gets bullied at school. Due to all the pain that he gets from the bullying and abuse, Taylor releases his anger by doing something he loves and that’s gardening. One day after being chased by bullies from school, it leads Taylor to discover an abandoned warehouse. In that warehouse, he finds a criminal who is chained up named Jim (Aleks Paunovic).
Instead of letting him go or doing the most logical thing of calling the police, Taylor instead decides to keep him locked up. Taylor does that so he can have power over someone. The same way that his Dad has power over him at home. He decides to keep Jim and take care of him. After Jim betrays Taylor violently, someone who Taylor grew to trust, Taylor becomes the abuser and acts abusive towards Jim. This switches up their relationship and puts both their lives in danger.
What I truly just love about this film is that it shows the importance of parenting in a kid’s development, what kids like Taylor have to go through and how the cycle of abuse can occur.
The film features a variety of successful Canadian television actors, from Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing, Snowpiercer), Adrian Holmes (19-2, Letterkenny) and Roark Critchlow (Days of Our Lives). Were you a fan of any of your castmates beforehand? Was there anyone you were nervous to meet?
MK: I haven’t really seen most of their stuff, but I have watched Van Helsing. I enjoyed it in the first season, but it kind of got too gory for me, with all the violence. It was truly great working with both of them and I truly learned a lot working with both of them. To see how Aleks used creativity and the items around him to enhance his performance. How Adrian used his charisma to make Pete an even more interesting character, which is dope to see. I learned a lot from them and it was a blast.
At the time that you were auditioning/signing on for Chained, what did you know about the project? Who was already attached?
MK: Adrian came on board at the same time as I did. I met him through doing a rehearsal. And for Aleks, I met him while he was doing a callback. I was there and reading with him, so that’s how I met him. It kind of surprised me how tall he was and how buff he was. He was truly a perfect fit to play Jim.
In Chained, your character deals with complex issues such as abuse and bullying. Knowing this information from having read the script, what was your approach to playing the role?
MK: To prepare for Taylor’s character… I have a completely different life from him. I don’t have an abusive father. Instead, I have 2 loving, caring and supportive [parents]. So, I really had to transform myself into Taylor, this hurt and abused child. Also, since in the film there’s a lot of running, biking and fighting scenes, I had to prepare myself physically for those.
I’m very glad I also prepared myself physically because the first time, like I said, I saw Aleks and how big he was. I kind of worked out on my body so I wouldn’t get squished by his whole body or he breaks my head, something like that. I prepared completely for that.
While preparing for the performance aspect of Taylor, I was watching one of my favourite shows, Breaking Bad and noticed there were some similarities. Both stories are completely different. I noticed that Walter White and Taylor Castillo share similarities that they are both in bad circumstances and due to that, both end up making drastic decisions. They put their own lives in danger and the people close to them in danger. By seeing those similarities and watching that actor’s [Bryan Cranston] performance, it helped me come up with tips to enhance my performance.
Of course, thanks also to my parents that I was able to prepare for this role. Honestly, without their support, I wouldn’t have been able to do the great job I was able to do. That’s basically how I prepared.
Titus Heckel, of course, served double duty as writer-director on Chained. In your opinion, how did the fact that Titus wrote the script inform how he directed yourself and the rest of the cast?
MK: Since he both wrote and directed Chained, that means he really knows what he’s talking about and he knows what he wants from each character. Working with him was truly a great experience and since this is my first lead role, I’m blessed that I got the chance to work with him. The trust that he put in me and the way he made me feel like a partner making this film really helped me build my confidence so I could give it my all when playing Taylor. He’s just an amazing director and it was really great working with him.
You have also appeared in multiple films for Hallmark – and we’ve previously interviewed your co-star Antonio Cayonne. How have you found that experience?
MK: Working on Hallmark was a really fun experience because there’s a huge difference between Chained and Hallmark. [Chained] is more violent and intense, Hallmark is happy and feel good. I just love playing different characters, so it was really fun working with [Antonio Cayonne] and those other actors. It was great doing Hallmark, but I kind of prefer the violent, intense roles… not because I’m crazy and all that, I prefer being challenged and pushed to become a whole other person.
Usually in my own life, I’m happy and I like to smile and joke around. Basically, I was just myself when I was playing my character in the Hallmark films. In this one, I really had to transform myself and push myself to play Taylor.
Where can people see Chained once it has been released?
MK: I’m not exactly sure, but I believe it will be available digitally on Apple TV and also On Demand, on June 15th.
On Riverdale, you have appeared in multiple episodes as Malcolm Moore, younger brother to Munroe Moore aka “Mad Dog”. How would you describe the process of landing that role?
MK: That was quite a while ago. Riverdale is also an intense and dramatic show. Seeing my fellow actor who I was working with in his performance and how he played his character, it helped me also come up with a couple of tips. How he portrayed the character and also the other actors in the show, with their performance, a real learning experience.
It was really fun being on Riverdale and I even watched the show for a bit. It’s pretty fun and interesting. I think it’s a little mature for me though, a lot of kissing and other stuff like that.
How would you compare the experiences of walking onto the set of an established television series compared to a film, where there is a blank slate?
MK: On a new film, you get to meet everybody and everybody doesn’t know each other. You get to talk more and understand everybody else. In a series, people already know each other, they’re already working and know what’s going on. In a series, it’s more focused on work, if you came in while they’re already doing the show. In the film, it felt more friendly, I guess because I don’t know any other people and I get to introduce myself. So yeah, it was kind of a difference.
Outside of Chained, are there any other projects coming up that you can discuss?
MK: For the moment, no. But you’ll definitely be expecting me in more projects and playing different characters. I’ll also be in the new Ghostbusters film [Ghostbusters: Afterlife], which will be coming out at the end of the year. Also, of course, Chained will be coming out on June 15th.
Professionally or personally, what do you hope to accomplish with the rest of 2021?
MK: For the rest of 2021, I’ll just be focusing on school and finishing that and also trying to get other roles. Mostly, just that.
To close, is there anything you can tease about Chained for anyone who hasn’t seen it?
MK: I’d say Chained is a really dope film. For parents, they can take a few tips from the film to show how important parenting is. How your job is really important in developing your child. If someone experiences constant abuse and constant bullying, they themselves might become that abuser. I think people can take a couple of things from the film and apply it to their own lives. I think people will really enjoy this film as well, because it’s really good.
Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us, Marlon. Take care and stay safe!
MK: Thank you for having me, it was great talking to you.
Chained will be released on June 15th.