Check out Danny Sapani as Berber the Moor’ in FX’s medieval drama The Bastard Executioner, by Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy/The Shield). After a few episodes I was hooked, I’ve always been a fan of medieval stories. I pretty much watch everything on the medieval era that I can. A common character theme in medieval “English” stories is the “Moor” normally performed by modern persons of Moorish descent commonly perceived as “Black” or “African” riding out with a group Englishmen in a rebellion of sorts against corrupt English Kings (Sovereigns).
One of the first episodes that I had a chance to observe, I noticed a Moor running among the rebel villagers in the show who were not happy with the manner in which they were being treated by the Baron over their lands. I observed in the show a horrid scene where the Moor’s mother is stabbed in the back of the head by an Englishmen while offering Salat during the raid of their village by the barons police force and an episode or two after the death of the Baron, the Moor and his English companions are captured and by means of the bastard executioner a friend of theirs, they were not executed but were placed in servitude to the Court.
Sapani’s character is an educated noble of Moroccan descent; who contends with his forced conversion to Catholicism all the while maintaining his deeply devout Muslim belief. In an interview Sipani stated that his character (Berber) was: a practicing Muslim in a Catholic world, the secrets of his past are yet to be revealed. He clearly lived a very different life before he come to Wales as reflected in his adept skills with a scimitar and the fact that he can read which indicates he is of noble birth.
Do you ever draw upon your Ghanaian roots when playing a character?
Yes. My mother’s family [come] from a royal line and my father’s family are lay people, so I have class and cultural conflicts within my make-up. Ghana is also my way into African culture and history, which enables me to identify closely identify with many of the characters I have played and understand the time [period] they [would exist].
Set in early 14th century Wales, Wilkin Brattle, a Welsh knight in the army of King Edward II of England is betrayed by an Englishman who has a lust for power and who leaves him for dead. When he is near death, a child apparition implores Brattle to lay down his sword and follow the path of a different man. Fast forward to Wilkin living as a peasant farmer, married, with a child in the womb. His new life of peace is shattered by the unbearable taxes assessed on the peasants by none other than “Baron” Erik Ventris, the man who had betrayed Wilkin. Pressured by his fellow villagers, Wilkin leads a raid on the Baron’s tax collector, which leads Ventris to the revenge killing and burning of all the women and children in Brattle’s village. Brattle’s raiders seek battle with the Baron ending in the death of Ventris and the massacre of the Baron’s troops.
Revenge, however, is not complete, as the raiders want all the soldiers who slaughtered their kin to die by the sword. Brattle assumes the identity of a journeyman punisher (executioner), injected into the plot just moments before the Baron’s death. Brattle, aka Gawain Maddox, enters Castle Ventris with the intent of identifying the remaining murderers so his fellow raiders can exact revenge. Castle intrigue traps Brattle in his new alias and disdainful profession. Forced to wield the bloodiest sword of all: an executioner’s sword, Brattle must lead this double life while trying to determine whether this new path is the one the apparition has chosen for him, or if he has been led astray. The plot partially involves the fallout from the Madog ap Llywelyn Welsh rebellion
Another episode I found enlightening involved Sapani and Catherine Louise “Katey” Sagal better known as Peggy Bundy or the FX Series Queen of the Sons of Anarchy, her character is Annora. She comes across Berber the Moor in the midst of a Muslim prayer. He panics, but she assures him that his devotion is private. “Even if that devotion is seen as heresy?” he asks. “Only the fearful and ignorant try to judge right and wrong,” she answers. She objects to his criticism of her own faith — he assumes she’s pagan — and she quotes the Koran in protest. The tangling of religious allusions and mysticism is one of the most promising motifs in The Bastard Executione
In 2014 Sapani also played the role of Sembene, a long-time ally of Sir Malcolm with a mysterious persona and unexpected victim to the Wolfman in Showtimes “Penny Dreadful“. Many people are familiar with classic literary characters like Dr. Frankenstein and Dorian Gray. “Penny Dreadful” brings those and other characters into a new light by exploring their origin stories in this psychological thriller that takes place in the dark corners of Victorian London.
Sapani also appeared in Danny Boyle‘s film Trance. His stage credits include August Wilson‘s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and Radio Golf, Errol John‘s Caribbean classic Moon on a Rainbow Shawl and The National Theatre production of Euripides‘ Medea.
He has also acted in the 2013 Indian action film, Singam II as an International Drug Lord.
His TV roles include appearances on Misfits, Ultimate Force and Blackout, while his television guest appearances include Judge John Deed and the Doctor Who episode “A Good Man Goes to War.” as Colonel Manton.