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Ejiofor known by cab drivers now

Chiwetel Ejiofor is apparently known to cab drivers since being nominated for an Oscar: Photo © Ejiofor known by cab drivers now Photo

Chiwetel Ejiofor's Half Of A Yellow Sun director has said now cab drivers know who he means when he mentions his old friend's name.

Biyi Bandele and 12 Years A Slave Oscar-nominated star Chiwetel had been friends for a long time and agreed to work on the adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie's book together six years before it was made.

The first-time director explained: "Chiwetel is an old friend and we'd been talking about making a movie in Nigeria for years. He read the book and he loved it and he was on board before I'd even written a single word of the script."

He continued: "When we shot this film he was a very busy actor, quite well known. Then he went from my set to the set of 12 Years A Slave which has garnered him awards all over the world and nominations and it's great.

"Now when I mention his name to cab drivers, they know who I'm talking about."

Chiwetel stars as Odenigbo alongside Thandie Newton as Olanna in the tale of the couple and two other central characters living through Nigeria's struggle to establish an independent republic, and both agreed Biyi had done a great job in adapting the screenplay.

Dancing On The Edge actor Chiwetel said: "It's always fascinating, the balance between the book itself and the adapted screenplay.

"I think Biyi did a remarkable job on this film, it's such a beautiful novel but it's also just so epic and there'd be no way of telling it in 100 odd pages, so Biyi had to do a lot to condense it but just to keep its beauty and its elegance and the epic nature of it and I think he did a terrific job."

Thandie added: "[I was a] huge fan of the book, I actually wondered how on earth they could possibly write a script, how they could adapt this story and he did a wonderful job, Biyi.

"That central relationship between Olanna and Odenigbo, it's just... I think it's a real modern classic actually."

Half Of A Yellow Sun is in cinemas now.

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