Light Mode

EXCLUSIVE: BOB MARLEY ONE LOVE’s Sam Palladio on Playing Clash Frontman Joe Strummer, His Mystery Recording with Foo Fighters’ Chris Shiflett and More

One Love is a movie that carries an awful lot on its shoulders.

The life, politics and music of Bob Marley have almost dissolved into pop culture at this point, with the man himself’s name growing more synonymous with the concept of iconography itself by the day, and many forgetting too quickly the bold impact that Marley and his band of Wailers made simply by pouring love into music. The life and times of Bob Marley is intrinsic to our modern understanding of music as an art form today, and even in the face of a collective drudging sigh to the world of music biopics, One Love is taking a crack at reminding the people who knows Bob’s face to know Bob’s story.

The story, as might shock those who only know the face of reggae for the love baked into Bob Marley’s music, comes with its fair share of political turmoil — and it’s just this that brought Marley to punk icons The Clash. When Marley took to London in self-imposed exile after a vicious attack, his joining British culture led him into a show led by the band, whose political staunchness and musical fervor inspired the single “Punk Reggae Party,” drawing the two worlds together in a quiet moment of solidarity and camaraderie. One Love shows us this experience, too — and much of its impact comes courtesy of the film’s Joe Strummer, iconic guitarist, and by his own admission, “Punk Rock warlord. With ‘warlord’ being one word.

- Advertisement -

Strummer’s appearance in the film may be brief, but his raucous, scrunch-faced demeanor was tough to replicate, and his boots as the band’s frontman, leading voice and driving engine an immense challenge to fill. Luckily for Sam Palladio, One Love’s pick to embody the guitarist, it wasn’t his first rodeo. The actor had taken to those very large boots before. Appearing as Strummer in English actress/comedian’s Kathy Burke’s autobiographical Sky1 short film Little Crackers (2010), Palladio, in his first British television appearance, played the self-seriousness he often projected for comic effect. But there’s clearly more on the table with Palladio’s performance in One Love.


Palladio as Joe Strummer (for the first time) in the 2010 short film Little Crackers.

“You don’t often get to play the same character twice, let alone a punk rock god and someone who has influenced musical generations,” Palladio beams while speaking to Hollywood.com. “It’s definitely a privilege in both instances.”

Palladio as the ambitious singer Gunnar Scott in television’s long-running Nashville, pictured here with actress Clare Bowen (Scarlett O’Connor).

Though his first love is country music (and he does it well, with his most recent single “Something on my Mind” serving as a gorgeous and wistful wish for a better day), Palladio seems just the versatile artist to take up such a nuanced role and bring it to life in mere moments of allotted screen time. As the de facto Prince Charming in Netflix’s Princess Switch trilogy, and starring as Nashville‘s Gunnar Scott for six seasons on ABC and CMT–all while supporting his own music career–he’d honed and diversified his acting chops. And after years of taking his rock bands around Cornwall in the early 2000s with long hair down to his shoulders and a beanie and flared jeans*, it was inevitable the energy of the Clash’s music would seep into him along the way.

The Clash’s Joe Strummer, late 1970s

Palladio speaks about the nuances of Strummer’s work with animation. By his own admission, it was exciting to learn his idiosyncrasies.

“This was very much a physical experience, and naturally taking Joe from what we see a lot of, him with his awesome telecasters, he couldn’t solo, he was a fuckin’ strummer. It’s that downbeat, he’s always rocking out,” Palladio says. “Naturally, when I play guitar, I stomped my right foot all the time, and I realized that actually, Strummer’s got this back in the left leg that is like a jackhammer.  That is how he played. […] There was a lot of punk rock peacocking — shoulders back, twisting from his hips, leaning into those shoulders, and this jackhammer leg going, which was cool.”

- Advertisement -

Call it a lot of work for an ostensibly minor appearance in One Love, but in real terms this is a determinative moment for Bob Marley — his exile has by now taken him from politically turbulent Jamaica to Thatcher-era Britain, a time that, for many, felt without hope. There is gravity to this collision of Marley and Strummer’s band of chaos-mongers, and as first drafts of his scenes featured outward political messaging, Palladio knows it.

“The initial scene, how it played out in one of the earlier drafts was Joe giving a bit of a speech about Thatcher and colonialism, really leaning into the troubles of the youth of the period,” says Palladio. “There was definitely like a, ‘okay, I’ve got to set the tone.’ It was Bob’s first experience of punk rock and that wild British energy which was historically documented as quite a pivotal good. The actual gig we explore was a real kind of ‘riot’ at the Rainbow Theatre [occurring after the release of The Clash’s eponymous debut album, it was described by the press as total carnage–see below for a brief clip], which was, if not exactly, a historically accurate representation of one of those kind of gigs where it just spills out onto the streets and he was kind of blown away by it. I think it gave his music that little bit of punk rock.”


The way Palladio speaks about becoming Strummer during our transcontinental zoom is joyous; it feels like the young rocker who dragged his bands around Penzance, Cornwall all those years ago is bursting through from inside him onto the computer screen. Just as Palladio would grow into an emotive country artist who can take to a microphone and truly confess, he shows an open excitement that implies he’s come full circle. Those early days are an aspect of his life that peek clearly through the gaps as he reveals to Hollywood.com that his next musical work features a contribution from Foo Fighters’ Chris Shiflett.

As our conversation draws to a close, there’s clear gratitude here too. With Sam’s work as a musician, and playing musicians across television and film, it’s all been woven together in his own life. For it now to weave into the history of an iconic musician’s is a pretty big deal.

“It’s a fascinating little part of Jamaican history … Bob really was some sort of prophet for the country, and i think that legacy is really important,” he says. “I think the messaging, you know, ‘One Love,’ it’s Rastafarianism. It’s that belief in yourself and others, and taking care of one another. I think it’s a really important message at this time. It’s just a real honor to play a very small part in a beautiful film.”

- Advertisement -

Palladio seems as though he could talk for hours about playing Joe Strummer, and this could be just what the role needed. Much like Strummer himself, the performance itself can be great, but it’s still little without the vital energy to power it–and it’s easy to see Palladio has that energy in boundless reserve. Perhaps becoming one of punk’s most crucial personalities is a sign of things to come for the burgeoning country star, the beginning of a new leg in Sam Palladio’s creative journey.

Just make sure that when he’s making headlines, “warlord” is spelled as one word.

*Songwriter Magazine, Jan 6, 2024


Buy Tickets for BOB MARLEY ONE LOVE HERE        

              Read our EXCLUSIVE interview with BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE’s Alexx A-Game (Peter Tosh) HERE




Joseph Kime is a journalist, author and podcaster from Devon, UK. He is the Senior Trending News Writer for gaming site GGRecon, writer of the self-published essay collection Building A Universe, and co-creator of The Big Screen Book Club podcast. After graduating from Plymouth’s MarJon University with a degree in Journalism, he’s written for the likes of The Digital Fix, Zavvi and FANDOM. He’s Nobuhiko Ōbayashi’s biggest fan, and will talk your ear off about the significance of Kiki’s Delivery Service.


- Advertisement -