Ras Iyah V Calls For Peter Tosh Biopic, But ‘No Wig, No Bald Head’ In The Lead Role

Rastafarian elder Ras Iyah V is calling for a biopic that honors the uncompromising spirit of Reggae legend Peter Tosh. However, in his view, any portrayal must prioritize authenticity since Tosh, were he alive today, would ‘get up, stand up,’ and then raise ‘hell’ if a “bald head” were selected to portray him.

“Bun a wig.  Bun a wig. Peta woulda a bun fire man.  Mi know Peter Tosh enuh!  Peta?  Wig?  Yuh mad?” Ras Iyah V, who hails from the late musician’s native Westmoreland, said fervently.

“Inna wig?  No man.  Peter woulda rail!  Dat wouldn’t happen.  If Peta was alive and a film was to be made, Peter woulda never allow no bald head fi play him. Yuh mad?  Peter wouldn’t do dat,” he added.

Ras Iyah V’s comments came in the aftermath of the release of the Bob Marley: One Love Biopic, in which lead actor Kingsley Ben-Adir wore a dreadlocked wig in his portrayal of the Reggae icon.   Jamaican artist Alexx A-Game was cast as Tosh in the film. However, his scenes were removed for the theatrical release.

Alexx A-Game as Peter Tosh (Photo @alexxagame/Instagram)

As for the perfect actor to play the role of Peter Tosh, Ras Iyah V told DancehallMag that the only solution that would respect the Mystic Man’s legacy while still staying true to the demands of filmmaking would be to search for an actor from Jamaica with genuine dreadlocks who can authentically tell the story of the Reggae icon.

According to him, in addition to forbidding a “bald head” to play the role of Peter, he was certain the Crystal Ball artist would prefer a Jamaican who had the life experience of being a country national to ‘effortlessly’ portray his persona on film.

“I think knowing Peter, Peter woulda want somebody from Jamaica to play Peter Tosh.  But if you were going to look at a foreigner you have to have somebody who understand the Jamaica situation, the Jamaican condition under which certain people grow up,” Ras Iyah V said.

“It can’t be that you just get up and pick anybody.  Dem must know dem responsibility; dem know dem have a role is not just acting, but sending a message out there,” Ras Iyah V said.

Added Iyah V: “I would prefer if a Jamaican play the role of Peter because, if you don’t grow up in Jamaica, there is a lot of tings that you never overstand or understand about Jamaica – Jamaican culture, Jamaican people, Jamaica way of life.  So you need people who are not only actors, but who intelligent enough to realise that the role you are going to play is someone coming outta certain condition, outta certain situation and Jamaican so-called class structure.”

Ras Iyah V also contended that a film about Peter Tosh’s life and times ought to be considered and brought quickly to fruition by his children.

“I think the family should spearhead suppm like dat.  Engage companies or entities that you know capable of getting those type of things done. But the family has to play a significant role – Niambe, Dave and Andrew,” Ras Iyah V said.

Ras Iyah V

Ras Iyah V reiterated that Jamaica is a very peculiar place, and Peter Tosh, similarly, was a very peculiar man who went through a lot of struggles, both in rural Jamaica and in the ghettoes of Kingston. The Westmorelite’s spirit could only be embodied by one of his own nationals.  

“I think it is only best for people who grow up under the conditions to be given such a role, because they would know what it is to grow up inna certain situation, ghetto or grow up in a rural area,” he reiterated.

“I don’t think a foreigner overstand Jamaica as much as who born and grow here and know the history and the struggle.  I am not saying black people don’t struggle in other places of the world, but Jamaica struggle is a very peculiar one.  And with the whole Rastafari element, it makes it even more so,” he added. 

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