Volier Johnson was the pro's proTuesday, July 13, 2021
BY BRIAN BONITTO
FILM-MAKER Lennie Little-White remembers veteran actor Volier “Maffie” Johnson for his uncanny ability to bring a character to life.
“Volier's remarkable talent was his ability to give life to lines in the script that might have been mundane for others. His body language was another major attribute which gave his characterisation a fulsome body,” Little-White told the Jamaica Observer.
“He remains one of my favourite male actors because, in spite of his tremendous talent and acting resume, he always displayed humility — on and off the set. He also showed respect for his fellow actors on the set,” he continued.
Johnson, 69, died in the Kingston Public Hospital on July 9 of a heart attack. He reportedly complained of being unable to breathe and was rushed to the medical institution.
Johnson was a cast member of the television series TRAXX, written and directed by Little-White. Oliver Samuels, Leonie Forbes, Audrey Reid and Ronald Goshop were also part of the sitcom which ran from 1998-1999.
“I wanted an actor that could counterbalance Oliver's tremendous comedic talent. Volier was the natural foil to create a perfect trio with Leonie Forbes as his wife,” Little-White recalled.
Johnson played a corrupt, retired politician.
“His screen name was Fish Head, which came from his constant demand for a percentage of all contracts given out by his ministry,” said Little-White.
Johnson began acting in the late 1960s while attending St Andrew Technical High School. He first appeared in an adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, directed by his mentor Trevor Rhone.
He also co-starred in numerous of plays including Power Play, What The Hell Is Happening To Us Dear? and Toy Boy.
Johnson made his film debut as a handcart man in The Harder They Come. He also appeared in the films Milk And Honey and Better Mus' Come.
In the 1990s he became a household name as con artist Maffie alongside Samuels in the hit television series Oliver at Large.
“Volier never exhibited any of the typical characteristics of star actors. When he did not remember his scripted lines he would ad-lib, much to the friendly annoyance of Oliver,” said Little-White.
The film-maker recalls a fond memory with the veteran actor.
“Volier loved to eat, and this was evident with his rotundity. On one occasion when his shirt buttons kept popping off — to the disgust of the costume mistress — Volier burst out: 'Yuh all stop watching my big belly! It is the shed for my valuable toolbox.' The entire production team fell to the floor,” he said.
“He was a natural comedian who always lit up the room... an icon in Jamaica's acting community,” said Little-White.
In 2013 Johnson was bestowed the Order of Distinction, Jamaica's sixth-highest honour, by the Jamaican Government for services to the arts.
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