The first full trailer for the Netflix film, Barry, was released this week, and there’s already been a massive buzz around it.
The film is a biopic about President Barack Obama during his years at Columbia University, and focuses on the challenges Obama faced growing up, including brushes with racism and a feeling of not fitting in as a mixed-race man. What you may not know is that the actor taking on the role of Obama is Australia’s Devon Terrell — yes, he nailed Obama’s accent — and he’s just as interesting. Here’s why…
1. It’s Terrell’s first acting credit
Judging from the trailer of the film, Terrell is perfect for the role (and it must be a daunting task taking on the role of the 44th president of the United States) so it’s even more surprising to learn that this is actually his first acting credit. Impressive, right?
2. Although he did previously land another role
Terrell had previously landed the lead role in Codes of Conduct, but the show didn’t make it past the pilot.
3. He transformed his life in preparation for the role
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Terrell had two months to prepare for the role before they began filming, and during this time, he was dedicated to making his performance as authentic as possible. Some examples include the fact that he started writing with his left hand and practised playing basketball from the left.
4. He actually shares some similarities with Obama
Terrell was born in Long Beach, California, before moving to Perth at age 5, but one similarity he shares with Obama is the fact that he too was born to parents of different races: an African-American father and an Anglo-Indian mother. Meaning the scenes in Barry that portray a conflicted Obama struggling with his background are ones that Terrell can deeply relate to.
“I read the story and I had such an emotional connection to it and I said that’s me, someone just summed up my life,” he said. “I’ve had very similar experiences, moving to Australia and having to change my accent and go to school. And I’ve never met a person who’s Anglo-Indian and African-American.”
5. He wants to do Obama justice
While it’s not easy taking on the role of such an incredible man, Terrell does hope that Barack Obama gets to see the movie, and that he gives him the thumbs up. “I hope he goes, ‘Yeah, I think you were close enough,'” he said.
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year and will make its debut on Netflix on Dec. 16.