Tag Archive | "black dynamite"

Kevin Chapman Talks ‘Person Of Interest,’ Upcoming Projects And More!

Kevin Chapman Talks ‘Person Of Interest,’ Upcoming Projects And More!

Kevin Chapman is certainly becoming a familiar face in Hollywood these days. He has spent the past decade developing an incredible body of work which runs the gambit work from critically acclaimed, big budget films such as “Ladder 49” and “Mystic River,” to cult film favorites like “The Boondocks Saints” and “Black Dynamite” to a host of well received television series, such as “Cold Case,” “Brotherhood” and “Rescue Me.” It is his dedication to his craft and incomparable work ethic that has continued to garner the attention of the powers that be in the entertainment industry. He is living proof that hard work and persistence pay off as his journey has taken him from an ordinary guy working for The City of Boston to locations around the globe where he has starred alongside legends of the silver screen. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Kevin Chapman to discuss how he got his start in the entertainment industry, the amazing projects that he has been a part of and his latest role as part of an ensemble cast for CBS’ ‘Person of Interest’.

A career onscreen is not what you originally sought out. What can you tell us about how you got started on your journey in the entertainment industry?

Kevin Chapman

I had been working in a different capacity for a director by the name of Ted Demme (“Who’s The Man,” “Beautiful Girls,” “The Ref,” “Blow”), who has since passed away. I was working with him and Denis Leary on a movie called “Monument Ave.” Teddy kept looking at me, kinda wild eyed, and one day he said, “Can you act?” I said, “I think I am intelligent enough to.” So, he gave me a script and I went right home and read it. I had lunch with him and Denis the next day and told them my interpretation of the character that they were interested in having me play. Ted said, “Can you get three weeks off from work? I’d like for you to play this guy.” I was petrified! I didn’t really have any idea of the process of filmmaking. I got through that and it was such a pleasant experience that, when another film came to town, I auditioned and got a small part in “The Cider House Rules” and then “In The Bedroom.” One day I said to myself, “I can do this!” and I quit my job at The City of Boston on a Tuesday and moved to Los Angeles on a Saturday! I studied with a lot of acting coaches and once I got the part in “Mystic River,” that was the thing that kinda kicked the door open for me!

That’s great. It definitely seems to be panning out for you!

It is one of those things that, when I have it all figured out, maybe I will do something else! The process of bringing someones words off of a page and bringing them to life is something that I find extremely fascinating. Placing some level of emotion behind the words that are on a page, you can really give different interpretations or different meanings to what is written. I have worked with some amazing filmmakers and amazingly talented people on television. It has truly been a great experience.

I am curious to know some of the influences who helped shape the actor we see today both on-screen and off?

I have learned a lot from many different actors. I mean, obviously, when I got into this business, I just wanted to meet a guy like Sean Penn. I never thought I would appear in movies with him, ya know?! It is really hard to single out any one individual, just because I have learned so much along the way. I remember when I was on the set of “Mystic River,” I was so excited to meet Clint Eastwood. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to tell him how great he was, I wanted to get some advice from him on acting. I remember I walked up to him one day on set and he said [in Clint Eastwood voice] “Welcome aboard, kid!” After I was a little more comfortable with him, I said, “Could you give me some advice?” and he said, “Listen” and just walked away. It was the most simple advice that I had ever received in my life but that is what acting is — responding to something that is said to you. It so simple! [laughs] But when he said it, it hit me like a ton of bricks! Like I said, it has been great. I have worked with some of the greats! I worked with Al Pacino, John Travolta, Joaquin Phoenix, Dennis Quaid, Kevin Bacon — guys with huge, huge careers and I have learned a little something from each one of them along the way.

Your latest project is CBS’s “Person of Interest.” What can you tell us about your character, for those unfamiliar?

On “Person of Interest,” I play Detective Lionel Fusco, who is a detective in the NYPD. In the pilot episode, you will see that Lionel isn’t a very nice man! [laughs] Lionel is, how can we put it, on the dark side of things! He is a corrupt cop involved with a whole group of corrupt cops who are taking down drug dealers and stealing their money, along with many other things that are unethical and on the wrong side of the law. What happens is that he discovers that Reese, played by Jim Caviezel, had received some information on a meeting and was spying on a meeting that he shouldn’t have been spying on. Lionel was instructed to take Reese out to Oyster Bay and dispose of him. On that journey, Reese is able to turn the tables on Lionel. Before Reese decides to kill Lionel, he looks at him and says, “I see the good in you. If you ever hurt anybody again, I will be the first one to kill you. I am going to allow you to live. In return, you have to give me the information from inside the police department that will help me on my journey that will help me apprehend those involved and prevent crimes from happening.” That is pretty much how Lionel gets hooked in. In the first couple of episodes he is kinda trying to figure out how to shake Reese but as the storyline progresses, Lionel realizes that the work that Reese, and later on when he meets Finch, is something that is good. As the storyline progresses, you can see Lionel turn more to the light side of things. There is one particular episode where there is a small child missing and Reese is explaining this to Lionel and he says, “What happened?” Reese responds with, “What do you care? You’re corrupt.” Lionel says, “I am still a cop and it’s a kid.” I think that is a big turning moment for Lionel Fusco. From that moment on, you can see that he is no longer doing this work for Reese because he is forced to but he is doing it because it is the right thing.

There are a lot of interesting aspects to this project from the cast, to the writers, to the characters themselves. What attracted you to this role?

Kevin Chapman

It is a redeemable character and also when I look at characters, I look for truth. If you notice my body of work, I never play something so far off the trail that a viewer would be sitting at home and say, “Oh, come on!” Whenever I pursue a job, I try to pursue something that rings true, ya know? For me, Lionel rings true. I could see the truth in this guy. I think the best characters to play are the ones with this sense of duality, the type where you don’t know whether they are right or wrong, and it is left up to the viewer to decide whether he is a good guy or a bad guy. And of course the redemption side of the character is appealing to me as an artist.

I am really excited about the response that we have received for “Person of Interest.” It is fantastic, we have a great team in front of and behind the camera! What excites me so much about the show is that if you take Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, Taraji P. Henson and myself and line us up shoulder to shoulder and look at us — talk about four very different people! When I saw the cast, I was like, “Wow! This is just great!” because a lot of the television that you see now is very plain, the people all look the same, ya know? Everyone has hair gel, six-pack abs and is incredibly sexy. For me, it just doesn’t ring true. The cast that we have for “Person of Interest,” you look at and think, “Yeah, I can see that.” Having Jonathan Nolan, basically running the show, is truly amazing. He wrote the last two “Batman” movies, “Momento,” which was a phenomenal film, and “The Prestige.” He is a incredibly, incredibly talented individual. You also have JJ Abrams godfathering everything and making sure it all goes the way that it is supposed to and Greg Plageman is the show runner with an incredibly talented writing staff. In my opinion, this show, “Person Of Interest,” is really something special.

You guys have been shooting in New York. What has that experience been like for you?

Oh, New York is unbelievable! I shot a seven episode arc for “Rescue Me” but all of that stuff was kinda controlled in a contained environment. We weren’t out on the streets, we were always in an apartment or the hospital, always a controlled environment. Jim Caviezel and I were shooting on Lexington Avenue one day. We were literally nose to nose having a conversation but the camera was across the street, so people couldn’t see it. As we are doing our lines, a little old lady came down the street and literally walked right inbetween us! [laughs] And just kept right on going! I mean, there was maybe 12 inches of space between Jim and I! [laughs] That is how close we were standing! It was unbelievable! [laughs] There was another one where Michael Emerson and I were out in Brighton Beach. There is a scene where my character is getting a hot dog and he approaches me and we continue to have a conversation as we move down the street. The train was running overhead and we do the scene. I get the hot dog, he comes up behind me and we stroll down the street. In a couple takes, the train would pull up and people would come pouring out into the station. A couple of times, I literally had to elbow people to get out of my way so that I could stay next to him and the camera could catch us coming down the street. It was pretty funny!

What has been the biggest challenge for you on this project as an actor?

I don’t know if it is a challenge per se, but what I like to do, the more I play characters, is to take the journey with them. That is the biggest thing. I can only speak for myself, but when you play a character that you have all figured out, I find that to be boring. What is great about Lionel and what I think is one of the most challenging things, is that we have a great writing staff and when they send out the script, you are never really sure where your character is going to go in the next episode. You haven’t seen the script for the following episode. You try to bring truth to what they are sending you and I think the challenge in that is not knowing where the journey goes from there after that last page in the episode that you are currently shooting. That is pretty much how I view things.

You have played a diverse range of characters in your career. Do you have a role you consider your personal favorite?

Sean Penn and Kevin Chapman

I can’t really say that I have a favorite role but my favorite experiences were probably “Mystic River” and “Ladder 49.” “Mystic River” was a remarkably successful film with an iconic director and an iconic cast, two of my co-stars in the film won Academy Awards that year. Sean [Penn] won for Best Actor and Tim Robbins won for Best Supporting Actor. That film was one of my favorite experiences just because we all spent so much time together. We shot all day and we hung out all night. We did table reads on our own and it was a remarkable learning experience for me to be around more than 200 years of filmmaking in a social setting. I mean, I was hanging around with Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney and sometimes Clint [Eastwood] would come out with us as well. Look at that group of people and imagine sitting down with them for dinners and hearing them talk about when they did this film or that film or hear Tim talk about when he directed this movie or Sean discussing his films, it was unbelievable, an amazing experience. “Ladder 49” was great as well. We actually went through the entire Baltimore Fire Academy during the day and rode with different engines to experience it first hand. I rode with Engine 33 at night. So, I would go to the Academy all day and then go to the firehouse at night and stay there. We would have dinner and talk to the guys and really were able to experience the world of firefighting first hand.

Is there a role or genre you haven’t tackled yet you would like to take a stab at in the future?

I have done some comedy in the past and I did some episodes of “Rescue Me” and a film called “Black Dynamite.” I guess I would kinda like to lighten things up a little bit and maybe take on some more comedy stuff. That really interests me.

You have been part of two very unique films that have become cult classics, “Boondock Saints” and, as you mentioned, “Black Dynamite.” Did you have any idea starting out these films would take on a life of their own?

Kevin Chapman

“Boondock,” not so much, but “Black Dynamite,” how I got that was I was at the gym and Michael Jai White approached me. He came up to me and said, “Hey, I have been a big fan of your work. I am making this movie and I really would like for you to play this character.” So, I said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, here is my address. Drop the script by and I will take a look.” I come home from the gym and Michael Jai White is sitting in my driveway with the script! [laughs] I read the first 15 pages and I ran to the phone to call him at his house. I said, “I’m in!” That was a very, very funny movie! “Boondock Saints” was one of those things, much like “Monument Ave.” I had met Troy Duffy, the director, and Chris Brinker, the producer, when I was working for The City of Boston. I was spending time with them when one day Troy Duffy said, “There is a character in the movie named Chappy.” That is my nickname. He said to me, “I think it is destiny for you to play Chappy in this movie!” So, I said, “Yeah! OK! Great!” Unfortunately, they didn’t end up shooting the movie in Boston, they shot it in Toronto for budget reasons. I went up to Toronto to play the part. Chris Brinker, who produced “Boondock Saints,” and I have since produced a movie together called “Lonely Street” with Jay Mohr, Robert Patrick, Joe Mantegna, Nikki Cox, Ernie Hudson and Katt Williams. It was a small little movie we made but it was a great experience and, since that outing, Chris has invited me to produce another movie with him which we are in the process of doing right now.

That is great. Can you tell us a little bit about that film?

Yeah, the film is called “Whiskey B” and it is about a cop who infiltrates the hierarchy of the Aryan Brotherhood. By infiltrating the organization, he pretty much brings it down.

Is producing something you see yourself doing even more in the future?

Yeah, I think so! I honestly believe that producing that first film has really helped me with my acting. I see things through a different set of eyes now. Putting a film or a television show together is kinda like having a sports team. You have the quarterback who is the star of the team and gets all of the accolades, but it doesn’t mean that the guard who is blocking for him isn’t as important as that quarterback, ya know? So, it is kinda like putting together a sports team, that is the best way to equate it. But yeah, it is definitely something that I can see myself doing more of.

I know you have to run but I thank you for your time today! We are looking forward to your future projects and wish you the best of luck, Kevin!

Thanks so much! I really appreciate your time! Talk to you soon!

Check out Kevin Chapman’s official Facebook page for all the latest news on his upcoming projects! While you’re at it, swing by the official site for CBS’ ‘Person of Interest’ and check out past episodes of the show!


Posted in Blog, Featured Stories, Celebrity Interviews, Movies, TV and More!Comments (0)

‘Black Dynamite’ Gets Animated! To Debut On Adult Swim In Spring of 2012!

‘Black Dynamite’ Gets Animated! To Debut On Adult Swim In Spring of 2012!

‘Black Dynamite’ is headed to Adult Swim in the spring of 2012! The late-night network has tapped ‘The Boondocks’ director Carl Jones to produce the series, which is based on the critically-acclaimed 2009 feature film of the same name.

Michael Jai White, star of the film version, will provide the voice for the show’s lead character Black Dynamite, an ex-CIA agent who’s out to avenge the death of his brother. The series will also feature the voices of Tommy Davidson, Kym Whitley and Byron Minns, all of whom starred in the feature film.

The Black Dynamite animated series, which will be produced by Ars Nova Entertainment, is set to debut in spring of 2012, according to the network.

Check out our interviews with ‘Black Dynamite’ director Scott Sanders and Black Dynamite himself, Michael Jai White from the film’s original release!

Posted in Blog, Movies, TV and More!Comments (0)

Director Scott Sanders Talks ‘Black Dynamite’ Film and Animated Series

Director Scott Sanders Talks ‘Black Dynamite’ Film and Animated Series

feature-scott-sanders

Writer/director Scott Sanders is preparing to unleash one of the greatest blaxploitation characters of all time in his highly anticipated new film, ‘Black Dynamite’. The film has been generating a huge buzz at film festivals around the world and stars the multifaceted Michael Jai White as the title character. The story is a classic vengeance tale that follows Black Dynamite as he aims to take back the streets from the clutches of “The Man” who has killed his brother and is pumping heroin into local orphanages. Along the way he is forced to hand out heaping helpings of bloody retribution as he follows the trail that leads him all the way to the White House and President Nixon. Taking the audience on a thrill-a-minute fun ride, while giving nods to blaxploitation cinema past, ‘Black Dynamite’ is sure to be the biggest sleeper hit of 2009! Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Scott Sanders to discuss the origins the film, the animated series that it will soon spawn and the challenges involved in bringing such a unique film to the masses. Can you dig it?

scott-sanders-3I wanted to give our readers a little background on you, in your own words. What got you started on journey in the entertainment industry?

Film was my major in college. I went to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. After that, I just came out to Hollywood. I actually ended up working at the United Talent Agency right when it started. I got fired from that job and I started writing a spec script with the money that I got from that job. The script was for a television show. Then they signed me as a client and I was a TV writer for a while, then I did a short film and that lead to me doing a movie called ‘Thick As Thieves’ with Michael Jai White and Alec Baldwin. That was my first movie, ten years ago.

Who were some of your influences directorially?

I think it started off for me with Spike Lee. It has been a real honor to show him ‘Black Dynamite’. He has been extremely supportive, so that has been great! I’d also say the Coen Brothers, who I just love. I can’t wait to see ‘A Serious Man’. Stanley Kubrick is another one.

That is definitely a mixed bag.

Yeah.

For those how don’t know, how did the original concept for ‘Black Dynamite’ come about?

BlackDynamite1

Well, as I mentioned Michael Jai White and I worked together ten years ago on ‘Thick As Thieves’. I was doing some other projects and working on some other things and I had approached him about another movie that I was interested in having him star in. He was really into it and I asked him what he was up to. He showed me a photo shot that he had done of himself with the afro wig, the gun, the nunchucks and the suit that he is wearing in the last scene of the movie. That is when it dawned on me that this would be the best thing to do! [laughs] It just became so obvious! Let’s make a blaxploitation movie, set in the seventies, now. It felt like it would be a blast to do. So we got together and shot a trailer for five hundred dollars, like a fake trailer, where we cut in stock footage with him on the other end. He would shot a bullet and kill somebody from thirty years ago! I showed it to our producer friend, who produced our first film ‘Thick As Thieves’, and he was like “Why are you showing me this old blaxploitation trailer?” I said to him “That’s Mike!” He did not even recognize that it was Mike in the trailer. [laughs] He said “Ok, I can raise the money for this based on the trailer alone.” That is how we raised the money. We didn’t even have a script yet and we had already raised the money for ‘Black Dynamite’. Actually, it was called ‘Superbad’ at the time but another movie took that title away from us. [laughs] So that is how it became ‘Black Dynamite’. It was really funny too, because we had the original trailer posted on a little website just for us to show other people and a Japanese website picked it up and it just spread all over the internet! It was the old trailer that we had just done for promotional purposes and there are still people out there that think that ‘Black Dynamite’ is a remake of that movie!

Oh really?! Wow!

Yeah! I mean, there are people who have written whole articles saying “Why would you remake ‘Black Dynamite’!?!!” [laughs] It’s like… “Ok?!!!”

As a director, what key elements did Michael Jai White bring to the to the role that made it jump of the page and screen?

mjw-3It’s a rare situation where Mike is a born blaxploitation star. If he was old enough to be an actual blaxploitation star, he would be the biggest one! He is built like a football player and has eight black belts in karate. Not even the guys then were like that! He is just as big as those guys. I mean, in ‘Black Dynamite’, we don’t move the camera or anything and he literally jumps ten feet in the air and kicks out a light! All of the blaxploitation stars were football players, except for Jim Kelly who a karate star. The fact that Mike is a combination of both and that he has amazing comic timing really brings it all together.

Was it difficult to balance the elements of those original films while you added you own flavor to it and was there ever a point where you pulled back because you thought something might be going too far?

I think we knew where the lines kinda were. I mean, if we took the worst of blaxploitation movies, it would go way over the top. The worst ones had crazy stuff in it.

If you look back on those films, it is hard to believe that they got made in the 70s!

Yeah! It is amazing! You have a movie, made by a major studio called ‘Boss Nigger’. It is hard to imagine a time where that would ever happen again, ya know! Fred Williamson was “Boss Nigger.” I can’t imagine going into a major studio and saying “Yeah, I’d like to make ‘The Legend of Nigger Charley’.” Ya know!? I think it would be impossible! So, there were lines that we knew that we didn’t want to cross, but the thing is that it does give us license because we are just kinda examining the genre. So with that, we had a license to go farther than most go.

You have been traveling around quite a bit to promote the film. How have audiences been reacting and what has the whole experience been like for you?

It’s been great. It has been something that has been totally unexpected. The fact that it has been so embraced by the film festival circuit has been a joy. I’ve never traveled, so it was great to travel as well. Traveling has been great. My favorite trip has been to the Czech Republic. We had the movie at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. That was the biggest audience that we have ever had. They had 1200 people and they let 100 more people just sit in the aisles. They were all just laughing and having a great time! It was translated in Czech and I guess it was a great translation! It was great! To me, that experience made me very encouraged that the film might be a lot more universal that we had expected.

scott-sanders-1For you personally, what was the biggest challenge in making “Black Dynamite”?

The challenge, but I think made the movie better, was having such a limited amount of time and a short schedule. Everyday we had to put ten pounds into a three pound bag! What is good about that is that’s how those original movies were made. I feel like you can see that energy on the screen.

Did you originally envision ‘Black Dynamite’ as a series of films, and the word is that ‘Black Dynamite’ may soon find his way onto the small screen by way of an animated series. What can you tell us about that?

It is pretty much all systems go on the animated series, which is great. That is kinda the first byproduct of the film. It’s going to be on Adult Swim on The Cartoon Network. Carl Jones, who worked on ‘The Boondocks’ is going to run the show. He is hilarious and really gets it, so that is a really fun thing that we are going to do. So yeah, I definitely want to do more! It would be hard to come up with a directing job that is more fun than ‘Black Dynamite’. Just going through the stock footage from the stock footage houses and saying “What scene are we going to work around?” It just feels so loose. My editor goes “Here is some footage I have of a chopper picking up a 1972 Chevette Caprice with a giant magnet!” Then we just work that into the story! It is just so much fun!

Is there any date that we can expect to see the animated series? And I would assume that Michael Jai White will be back to do the voice of Black Dynamite?

We are just working on the pilot right now and I am really bad with cartoon lead time. I just don’t know where they do it or how they do it but it is all moving forward fairly quickly, so that is exciting.

mjw-2I know the movie is just being released theatrically but do you have anything special that you are preparing for a DVD release?

Absolutely! The great thing is that we have never stopped making viral videos, there is a lot of stuff on the internet and it will be great to have it all in one place. There are a lot of great outtakes and a lot of funny stuff with Richard Nixon in it, because he was a method actor and never stopped acting. There is some really crazy stuff with him!

What is the best piece of advice that you can give to aspiring filmmakers?

There is some good and bad going on right now. Right now, it is very, very difficult to go through the studio system and get things done. It is just difficult. The upside is that if you have a good idea and you are entrepreneurial, the world really can be your oyster. You have to do things, you have to make things. You have to make things that you feel are going to bring attention to yourself. You have to just do it. With us, it started off with five hundred dollars and a trailer and led to all of these things. It started very, very small. You just have to get out there and do it. I don’t think the rewards are as far off as people think that they are.

Obviously you have a lot on your plate with the release of ‘Black Dynamite’ and the animated series on the way, but what other projects are on the horizon for you?

I’d like to stay in this kind of world. I like doing things that are genre based but have an independent spirit minded thing to it. There is some stuff that is pretty much in the early stages but I can say something like ‘Black Dynamite’ or ‘District 9’, I am kinda into that sort of thing.

Cool. It sounds like we will see you behind the camera again sooner rather than later, right?

Yeah. I was thinking about staying on the “ten year plan”, doing two more films and then dying but now I think I need to do them a little bit quicker! [laughs]

scott-sanders-2Looking back on making the film, what is you fondest memory of the project?

I have one that really stands out, because all of these things are such little wars. It was when we were getting all of the production design together, which is difficult for a movie like this where you are trying to get all of this period stuff. When I got to the neighborhood of Ladera Heights, we were literally walking through the neighborhood and knocked on a door. There was an old reverend there and he let us in his house. It looked like perfect 1970s house for a brothel! [laughs] That was a moment of relief! We barely dressed that house and it looked perfect.

Anything that you would like to say to the fans before I let you go?

Just that I hope that they come out to see the film on October 16th. I hope that they really enjoy it in the spirit that it was meant to be enjoyed in!

Thanks for your time and we will be spreading the word about the film!

Ok, thank you very much!

– –

For all the latest information on ‘Black Dynamite’, visit the official site for the film at www.blackdynamitemovie.com. Be sure to check out the official trailer for the film below.

Posted in Blog, Celebrity Interviews, Movies, TV and More!Comments (1)

Michael Jai White Talks About His Explosive Role In ‘Black Dynamite’ And More!

Michael Jai White Talks About His Explosive Role In ‘Black Dynamite’ And More!

feature_black_dynamite

Michael Jai White is one of the most dynamic actors in show business. His breakthrough role came when he portrayed boxing legend Mike Tyson in a 1995 HBO biopic. In the years to follow, White has tackled roles ranging from superhero to super soldier with everything in between. Now in 2009, donning a leisure suit, an afro wig, a mustache that would make both Rudy Ray Moore and Richard Roundtree proud, White is thrilling fans worldwide with his latest creation, ‘Black Dynamite’. The title character is a former CIA operative, war veteran and all around badass. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, Black Dynamite is the lone hero brave enough to take back the blood-soaked city streets after “The Man” murders his brother, pumps heroin into local orphanages, and floods the ghetto with malt liquor. The film serves as a loving homage to blaxploitation cinema and serves up a heaping helping of thrilling, first rate action!

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Michael Jai White as he was doing press for the film’s highly anticipated premiere in New York City. In the interview, the two discuss White’s career, the birth and challenges of making ‘Black Dynamite’, his latest on-screen outings and what the future holds for the rising star.


mjw-7Let’s get started with some basic questions: Where did you grow up and what got you started on journey in the entertainment industry?

I was born in Brooklyn and I left there when I was a teenager. I grew up, the rest of my time, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Originally, I didn’t know that I wanted to be an entertainer. There were some warning signs, but I didn’t pay attention to them. I was always shooting my own little Super 8 movies and as a kid I did puppet shows when I was in grammar school. When I got out of high school and went to college, I would dabble in acting classes but I never took it seriously. I became a school teacher and I would try to go out for auditions for television and commercials in my off time. Eventually, I decided that I needed to see if this could work, so I took a leave of absence from teaching and that has lasted up until now.

Well it seems like it is working out for you so far!

[laughs] Yeah! Yeah, I think I might stay away from teaching.

I want to touch on your latest exciting project, ‘Black Dynamite’. How did you first get involved with director Scott Sanders and what can you tell us about the film?

Scott and I met ten years ago on ‘Thick As Thieves’. The idea for the film is something I came up with one day while listening to a James Brown song. I was a fan of Blaxploitation movies when I was a kid. I thought that they were funny, cool, campy and all of that. I would periodically have a Blaxploitation Night at my house. Everyone really appreciated the films from my kids to people that had never even seen one before. They have such a style and brashness, that you just never saw anywhere else. I eventually decided to shoot my own film that would have all of those qualities. I wanted to give the viewer the experience that they saw a genuine blaxploitation film.

mjw-1What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

The biggest challenge was getting it all done in twenty days. That was definitely a challenge.

How hard was it to achieve that authentic look and genuine feel that you were going for?

It had it’s own set of difficulties. We shot on a film stock which is rarely used. With the stock, we just, you don’t have any movement with the film, meaning that you can’t really alter it after you shoot it. Whatever you shoot, you are stuck with. It’s not like most films where you can change things in post production. That made it a bit interesting. Your lighting had to be just right.

You have been traveling around quite a bit to promote the film. How have audiences been reacting and what has the whole experience been like for you?

It has been overwhelming. It has been such an education! We learned so much because this film is being very well received overseas. We are selling it to territories, so for example, there were packed houses in Germany and France. We had a standing ovation in the Czech Republic. There were 1,200 people in the theater and they let 100 more in, just to pack the aisles afterwards.

Wow!

They erupted! It was a standing ovation. It has been really heralded in Brazil and Australia. It has been an unprecedented thing, where a small movie with black folks is being this well received around the world. We never thought that it would be this big around the world. It just goes to show that you don’t have to grow up knowing about Blaxploitation movies to enjoy the film. It is just a fun action movie that people are really enjoying.

mjw-3Bringing the idea full circle from that first spark to the completed picture. What is your fondest memory of the experience on ‘Black Dynamite’?

I think one of my fondest memories was the day that we shot this pimp scene. I had these great actors that came out to lend their talents to the movie, to myself and just to have fun. I was really proud of that day. Aresnio Hall, John Salley, Bokeem Woodbine, Brian McKnight and all of these really great actors came out to have fun and it meant a lot to me.

With the tremendous buzz and fan reaction to the film, is there any chance we will see you revisit the Black Dynamite character anytime in the near future?

Absolutely. There is a very strong chance for that. Hopefully people will come out for the movie and that would really dictate it.

Another interesting project you have recently appeared in is ‘Blood and Bone’. What can you tell us about that?

‘Blood and Bone’ is kind of a straight forward action film. It is gritty in the tradition of the old Charles Bronson type of films, but it has a bit of a twist with that MMA type technique and martial arts in it, along with a pretty gripping story.

You mentioned MMA. In ‘Blood and Bone’ you have two of the sports biggest names, Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano in the film with you. What was it like working alongside them in the film?

It was great. They are really good fighters. You know, Kimbo is still having his ups and downs. Bob Sapp is still fighting. We had some cameos too, like Maurice Smith, who is the only United States K-1 Champion in Japan. He also graced the film. It was great working with all of them. Gina Carano is a sweetheart. People fall in love with her because they can see how sweet of a person she is. Kimbo is a really good guy as well. He is another kind of American success story, kinda in the way that Mike Tyson was. He just got people to really root for him and he is a great personality.

mjw-6You are very involved with martial arts and that plays a big part in many of your roles. I imagine that you play a large role in the fight choreography.

Completely. It is hard for someone to choreograph for me. I pretty much have to do the things that are natural for my character. That is one thing, I would not fight the same in two movies. I would fight as the character. So, it is really about that. Unless someone understands choreographing for the character, I tend to shun that away. I pretty much know that it is my responsibility to know the character, so I would be the logical person to dictate how the character fights.

That is interesting, as you have played so many varied characters from Black Dynamite to Spawn and so on. I am curious, is there a certain type of role that you haven’t yet taken on that you would like to take a stab at in the future?

Oh yeah, I think that some of my greatest roles, I haven’t even done yet. I would love to play an athletic, football type of role and even a “real” soldier. I haven’t played any “real” soldiers in a drama or even a cop. I was literally studying to become a police officer for years. Over the past few years, I have been getting myself ready to become a reserve cop. Police work is in my blood. It is something that my family is very close to and that I am very close to, so I know when I get a chance to play an officer on film, there is a lot of “me” that I can put into the role. I have also never played a teacher, which I am. I think that there are a number of dramatic roles that I would love to play. I would love to do my take on a ‘Lean On Me’ type of movie, where someone like me goes into the school systems and works with the youth, because that is what I do.

With that being said, what is the best advice that you have for anyone who would like to get involved in the entertainment industry?

I would say that this thing is called “show business” for a reason. You need to learn the business part of it. To often people just think from the artist standpoint and they have such a myopic view, their hearts are on their sleeves. They tend to take things personally. You hear people say often that they were rejected, which really to me is untrue because you aren’t rejected. It may be the character that you are playing was rejected but they don’t know you to reject you. I would tell people to look at it as if you were a private contractor and you are bringing your bid and if they don’t take your bid, it’s fine. It’s nothing personal. So again, I say learn the business end of it.

mjw-2What do you have in the works and what can we look for you, in next?

The next thing that you will probably see me in is Tyler Perry’s ‘Why Did I Get Married Too?’ I also have some really interesting action projects that are on the horizon.

Sounds very cool. I know you have been rumored to joining the cast of ‘Predators’, is there any confirmation on that?

Nothing to really report on that right now but I tend to only claim things once they have begun.

Is there anything that you want to say to your fans before I let you go?

I want to encourage people to come out, forget your troubles and see ‘Black Dynamite’ and come in for a ride!

It looks like quite a ride! Thanks for talking with us and we really appreciate your time.

I appreciate you!

– –

For all the latest information on ‘Black Dynamite’, visit the official site for the film at www.blackdynamitemovie.com. Be sure to check out the official trailer for the film below.

Posted in Blog, Featured Stories, Celebrity Interviews, Movies, TV and More!Comments (5)