By Ahmad Muto
On Monday, September 27, 2021, multi-award-winning Hollywood movie, The Last King of Scotland marked 15 years since its release and some of the members of the cast could not keep calm. Among them was actress, singer, dancer and writer Cleopatra Koheirwe who took to Instagram to relish the glory of the movie with fellow actress, Hollywood’s Kerry Washington who wrote: “15 years since the #LastKingOfScotland premiered! Wow.” Cleopatra replied: “Awwww happy 15 years to all of us #LastKingofScotland cast and crew. I miss you Kerry. It was a pleasure acting alongside you. Beautiful soul. Keep shining on.” And well, Washington liked the comment, according to Cleo, it cheered up her gloomy day.
Speaking to The Kampala Sun on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, she said her experience was great and turned out to be the key to her transition from theatre plays to feature films. From a call to auditions to a call back being offered a role.
“My experience during the filming of The Last King of Scotland was amazing and exciting because it was the first feature film I was being a part of from stage, theatre and this was 2006. I had just come out of campus. That time we were doing a play at the National Theatre with the Obsessions and we were told to audition for a Hollywood film that was coming and we did. Then I was called back and asked if I was willing to take a role. I was offered two parts,” she said.
However, Cleo added that when she was offered a role with a sex scene, she turned it down real fast because she was not comfortable executing it and did not want her first time acting in a film to go down like that.
“They offered me one role that had a sex scene. And I turned it down. I told the director I was not comfortable. It was my first time acting in a film, also it was in Uganda. That was when he told me about the other role, acting as Joy, which he said was a small role, but turned out to be bigger than the one with a sex scene,” she explained.
Then came Hollywood A-lister, Kerry Washington, that Cleo said was good to work with as much as she did not have a direct scene with her. She says one of her highlights was seeing actors James McAvoy and Forest Whitaker getting into character.
Among other Ugandans, the movie had Michael Wawuyo as an Air Force Commander, Abbey Mukiibi as Masanga and Joanitta Bewulira Wandera as a casting director. The film depicts fallen, former president of Uganda Idi Amin played by Forest Whitaker and a fictional Scottish doctor played by James McAvoy. It is based on the Giles Foden’s 1998 novel, The Last King of Scotland. The film won close to 50 awards between 2006 and 2007 including an Oscar for Forest Whitaker in the category of Best Performance by an actor in a leading role and scored over 30 nominations.
How the film impacted Cleopatra’s acting career
According to Cleopatra, the film gave her the inspiration to do film on TV at a time there were no opportunities in Uganda. It managed to get a role across the border, in Kenya, in DSTV series called Changes and the rest is history. She was 24 in 2006 and is now 39, looking back at the 15 years. In her words: “I do not regret and telling stories is what I love to do. The impact is that it opened doors for me into film and TV. And I think it made me a name to reckon with now because I have done so many other projects. And I am grateful to God for that.”