Bullet Boy makes its US release this week, which means we can finally toss out our somewhat dodgy UK imports (only watchable on computer screens and fancy home players, boo-urns!) and get the proper widescreen experience. Ashley Walters - better known as So Solid Crew's Asher D - plays the East End bad boy doing his best to keep his nose clean after a stint in jail. Of course, his project buds have other plans in store. It's almost like a Brit answer to Boys N Tha Hood, although something about the East End citiscapes and characters (many of the actors were first-timers discovered in the neighborhood) makes it way more intense and menacing. We spoke to Walters for last year's film issue, and you can read that full story after the jump.
Asher D is acting up
By Chioma Nnadi
“Hold on, I’m just putting the little ones to bed,” says Ashley Walters, speaking from his London home. The 23 year-old actor/MC known as Asher D is a self-confessed shy guy who enjoys the bedtime stories and bubble baths that come with being a father of three, even if his So Solid Crew alter-ego might not approve. His image—gat-toting, rhyme splicing, thug-for-life from South London—was cemented back in 2002 in the heady days of So Solid Crew mania, when he was caught carrying a loaded gun and sentenced to 18 months in jail. “I was blacklisted,” says Walters, who like most of the group’s 20-plus members grew tired of deflecting media pot shots. Bundled off to drama school at age four, Walters has always been a bit of a social shape-shifter; studying ballet dancing and tap dancing “things that people would regard as pussy or soft or whatever,” as he puts it—before getting up to no good on the block once school was out.
“There’s two different people, two different sides to me and I have to keep them separate,” says Walters. Barely a few months out of jail and the actor was shaking the dust off his other half’s reputation (Asher D) with a leading role in Bullet Boy, documentarian Saul Dibbs’s feature debut. Due for stateside release next year, the movie follows 48 hours in the life of Ricky, a bad boy struggling to go good who returns to his East London hood after a spell behind bars. Art-imitating-life moments pop up at every turn: the opening scene is shot at Walter’s old prison. “People that I’d been inside with were yelling at me from the windows,” he says.
An underlying realism ties together the emotions of the entire cast, a mix of professionals and first-timers. “It’s a positive message for the youth. More than anything else I owed them that,” says Walters, who also makes an appearance in 50’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ as Antoine, one of the rapper’s round-the-way compatriots. Walters has few words to say about the current wave of UK music, (“I just wish they’d talk about something different in grime,”) but he’s obviously making decisions about celeb responsibilities this time around. His solo album out in January promises only positively charged tracks, the kind three little ones can sing along to.