As a young boy, Gamba Cole dreamed of being everything from a fireman to a footballer – but while studying a BTEC in performing arts at Richmond-upon-Thames College in London, his passion for acting grew. ‘I didn’t have the funds to go to university or drama school so I had to get a job, but I never lost sight of what I really wanted to do with my life,’ he says. Since then the actor has starred in a number of TV and film roles, including Amazon Prime’s Hanna, Showtime’s Guerilla alongside Idris Elba and The Protégé with Samuel L. Jackson.
Most recently, Gamba returned to his Bristol hometown to film Stephen Merchant’s new BBC series The Outlaws – previously called The Offenders – which follows seven strangers who come together through community service. Gamba plays a security guard called Christian, starring alongside Christopher Walken and Eleanor Tomlinson.
Q&A with Gamba Cole
What can you tell us about The Outlaws?
The Outlaws is a series about seven different strangers that come together as a result of having to do community service. It’s a comedy/drama that not only tells a story, but addresses social ideals and provokes thought.
Any funny stories from filming?
Every day is funny when you are working with Stephen Merchant – he is such a genius. When we are shooting scenes he surprises you with additional lines he makes up on the spot. It would send everyone into hysterics.
Favourite person on the set of The Outlaws and why?
I don’t have a favourite person. I am so grateful to be working with all these super talented actors. As a collective we have become a great family and it wouldn’t be fair to single anyone out.
Favourite role to date and why?
My favourite role is usually my most recent. Playing Christian in The Outlaws has been such a privilege. There is a lack of roles for my demographic with nuance and the ability to be more than a stereotype but Stephen has created that avenue and I am so grateful.
What demands do you have on set?
A foot massage every day at lunch is a must. (Joking!)
Director you’d most like to work with and why?
The Russo brothers – I love everything they do.
What qualities do you think have made you successful?
I would say mainly my desire. I didn’t have the funds to go to University or Drama school so I had to get a job, but I never lost sight of what I really wanted to do with my life.
Film you think everyone in the world should see?
What’s your relationship with social media like?
Love and hate. Nowadays it’s become a place where everyone tries to outdo everyone else’s opinion. The seeking of validation is at an all-time high, but I love the fact it connects people from all around the world.
What did you want to be when you were a little boy?
I really wanted to be a fireman, then a footballer and then a spy.
If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?
You don’t know it all. Always have an open mind and open heart.
Three books you’d take to a desert island and why?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho because it taught me about patience and the pursuit of purpose. I really enjoy books that force me to reflect on my life and question things. I would bring a colouring in book to pass the time. Lastly, Thief! by Malorie Blackman.
How can we all live a little bit better?
With compromise and more understanding.
Any life hacks you learnt in lockdown that you can share?
Create yourself a routine, learn something new, practise gratitude.
What’s your interior design style?
I love simplicity: very basic but modern.
What are your indulgences?
Sweets. My favourite are pear drops.
What would your best friend say about you?
I would hope they would say I am loyal, trustworthy, resilient and funny.
How do you relax?
Playing FIFA and yes…I am the best.
If we’re coming to your area for a visit, what should we do?
Depending on your dietary requirements you’d have to go to Morley’s. Other than that it’s hard to say because my area is currently being gentrified so most of the places I would frequent are no longer there.
Are you a rule breaker or a rule taker?
Mainly a rule breaker, sometimes a rule taker.
The Outlaws is available now on BBC iPlayer