Remember HBO's prison drama Oz? It was the first mainstream breakout hit for the network, before both The Sopranos and Sex and the City took over Sunday nights. Extremely vulgar and gritty content turned some off, but hey, it was a prison drama, right? Characters were murdered weekly, alliances were formed (and reformed) on a regular basis, and the constant struggle for power amongst the inmates and their factions supplied most of the plot.
And there was Chuck Zito. Chuck Zito makes anything better.
Out of all the characters in the ensemble cast, the part of Simon Adebisi was definitely the most badass. You could make a case for Miguel Alvarez, or Verne Schillinger, or Chucky Pancamo. All had their moments. But no one ran Em City like Adebisi.
The actor who played Adebisi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, practically lived in the gym for the seven seasons the show as on the air. "It was all about size then, eating a lot, and working out pretty much every minute of the day," he says. "I was actually lifting five days a week, and then in between shooting, I would go to the gym. In fact, I would get some of the scenes engineered into the gym."
Akinnuoye-Agbaje has been in tons of projects since the show, including roles in G.I. Joe and The Bourne Identity, plus a regular spot on ABC's Lost. Plus, he was on our MF 25 list a couple years back. But I'm just partial to Adebisi. He was just the right amount of crazy.
These days, Akinnuoye-Agbaje lifts three days a week, splitting his workouts up by body part. Monday is chest, shoulders, and tri's, Wednesday is bi's and abs, and he'll hit legs and back on Fridays. For cardio, Akinnuoye-Agbaje prefers getting outdoors for some cycling, swimming or running.
On the set for Oz, he had to eat to gain muscle to stay big. Like the old-school bodybuilders, Akinnuoye-Agbaje would pound tuna and bananas on a daily basis. Raw tuna, right out of the can. He got most of his carbs from brown rice and carrots. Akinnuoye-Agbaje also kept a blender on set, and he'd mix up smoothies when he was too busy to eat solid food.
Somehow, pounding a can of tuna right before a lift seems like something Adibisi would do.
But the weirdest thing about Adebisi was how he wore his trademark knit hat. The thing stayed perched on the corner of his head and seemed to never move. Anyone who ever watched the show had to wonder how he kept it up there.
Turns out, there wasn't much of a secret to be revealed.
"I just put it on my head and it stays there," he says. "People think
it's Velcro or whatever. All it is is my bald head. You just stick it
on the corner. I could do a backflip and that baby wouldn't move."
Just another reason why Adebisi was the most badass character on Oz. He defied the laws of physics.
Which Oz character did you like best? Leave your answers in the comments.