The Pass starring Russell Tovey and Arinze Kene, is finally out tomorrow after being premiered at various festivals. It tells the tale of a closeted Premier League footballer, and key three nights across his life.
The story revolves around nineteen-year-old Jason and Ade, who have been in the Academy since they were eight years old. It’s the night before their first-ever game – a Champions League match – and they’re in a hotel room in Romania. Too excited to sleep, they mock each other, ready their kit, and eventually watch a teammate’s sex tape. Seemingly out of nowhere, one kisses the other. This one act is then felt throughout the next ten years of their life in a world where image is everything.
Recently Arinze Kene sat down with the Gay Times to discuss The Pass, which as I mentioned is finally becoming available to the general public tomorrow. When discussing why the story of The Pass appealed to him, he said: “Before I even read the script, I saw in the breakdown that the character’s name was Ade. I noted he was Nigerian and for me, I finally get to play a Nigerian. Then I read the script and literally, it was just the story itself. It’s not your usual romance and it’s not your usual exploration into someone covering up their true self. I found it was really honest and had the essence of truth in it.”
There has been a lot of focus recently on homophobia within football, and the complete lack of out players in that community. There have been various comments from players and higher ups within the footballing world, and there seem to be mixed thoughts on how much support a gay footballer would receive.
Arinze was asked if one of the hopes of The Pass was to help someone (footballer or no) come out.
He replied: “Yes, yes and listen, that is my dream that it changes opinions about things. I mean, one great thing about film and about art is that it challenges accepted values. I’m not just talking about footballers or fans of football, but people generally. We’re all brought up with a certain opinion and it’s what we’ve inherited from our parents, family members or social circles. This film will hopefully… in fact, no as I know it will, it will challenge that.”
2It will make some people feel uncomfortable, it’s unapologetic in its argument and it’s beautiful — I think John Donnelly has done a beautiful job. It will drive you into a corner and make you really rethink about what you think homosexuality and about love; just about love!”
They also more directly touched on the topic of footballers, and how Arinze came to understand through his time on set and his time speaking to real footballers, why a footballer would choose to remain silent.
“Yes, 100% and it’s a very, very testosterone-driven male and heterosexual domain. There’s a lot of speaking about girls and there’s quite a lot of speaking about sex it seems. That goes with a lot of sport, actually. I think it’s a form of release and it’s what people do in their down time; hang out with girls. Something like that, just picking that alone, if you’re not into girls then you’re excluded from so much of the bonding that happens within the team.”
“Just that alone, but as well I did get an insight into it. It’s not for the faint hearted and not everybody can stand alone and exist in that world. It must be tough, and that’s just one aspect of it. It must be quite difficult. I personally can’t see how someone could go through it without some sort of counselling. In a sense, it’s like covering yourself up and not being your true self for your entire profession which is a lot of your life. It can be like living in a cell.”