(Percival) and ANTWAN PATTON (Rooster)
Q: You guys have sold almost 30 million records. What did
you find out about the movie business that differed from
the record business? Are you ready to make movies?
ANDRE: Everything we do, we try to be true to ourselves.
We also know that what we create, we want to sell, so we
want people to come to the theater. We also want people to
say that this is a necessary film and needed to be made.
At the end of the day, if no one comes to see this, we will
know that we had a great time doing it, and that somebody
will be influenced by it.
Q: Can you talk about the cultural
synergy in the film, from 1930’s Cab Calloway and
Bessie Smith to modern hip-hop? What were your influences
in layering the music, culture and dance?
ANTWAN: I guess one of the major challenges
when we started to shoot the film was that we didn’t have all the music
ready yet. They kept telling us not to worry because they
would just shoot around it. Then we’d get to set and
the first thing they’d tell us is that they needed
a song. [Laughs.] It worked out all right, because we did
have some songs prepared, but we were lucky because the story
line was so strong that we didn’t need music all the
way through it. If we had to do this again, we would definitely
have all the music first
ANDRE: When Bryan was writing the
script and set it in the 1930’s, he knew that he would be taking the audience
into a whole new world, style wise. In the times we are living
in, especially for black people, you don’t get to see
people with class too often. It was a good choice on his
part to showcase all of this, especially the music. We knew
that it was the 1930’s, and we kept that in mind when
we were writing and producing. But we also knew that we were
Outkast and we had a responsibility to our fans. We had to
make sure there was modern music as well. We pushed the boundaries
and added some newness to the musical style of the 1930’s.
We really brought it to now. You do have Big Boi break out
rhyming. Cab Calloway did rhyme back then. I think the reason
musicals don’t work is because of the music. People
don’t want to listen to the music of old. They want
to hear the music of now, and that is why this makes sense.
Q: But you did seem to take that music of old and give it
some new life.
ANTWAN: That shows us being influenced by all musical genres.
We were never biased in our records in creating sounds, because
we liked rock, jazz and blues and pop and country. To go
back and throw in some swing was great. It was cool adding
some ragtime feel and we just did what we needed to do. We
can satisfy our fans by doing what we do best.
ANDRE: It’s called freaking
Q: How much are you like the personalities of your characters
in the film? Were these characteristics matched to your own
ANDRE: I think that this might be
closer to my real Andre Benjamin personality because when
people see me, they see me from “Hey Ya” and “Roses,” with
all this energy. In real life, I don’t dance around
all the time. We’ve known Bryan since we gave him his
first shot at directing one of our music videos. He knows
our personalities and our lives. He knows things about us
that the people don’t see, and he pulled from those
parts and created these characters. He wrote this script
and then gave us the room to play in these characters, which
showed a side of me that people don’t get to see. I
don’t mope around like Percival all the time. In every
character you play, you have to find a jumping off point
that makes it real to you.
Q: Is there any Rooster in you?
ANTWAN: Yeah, I think there is more than just a little bit.
Bryan took our personalities and exaggerated them and gave
us room to play with them. By him knowing certain details
about our lives and how we react to situations, he hit it
right on the bulls-eye.
Q: It is said that the two of you are opposites but the
music brings you together. Is that a fair assessment?
ANDRE: Sometimes that is the case
but people like to put us in categories and pigeon hole
us, like Big Boi does this in the group and Andre does
that. Of course we each have a persona that we let people
see but we switch roles all the time. In the movie, Percival
and Rooster might have characteristics that were taken
from our book, but they are extreme versions. You don’t go into the theater and see André 3000
acting like a fool. We were in character in the 1930’s.
Q: What do you think setting the
film in the 1930’s
lent to the story?
ANDRE: Well, you got to leave this
world and go to another world. I have always been a fan
of the 1930’s style,
especially in terms of the way men dressed. I loved showing
up on set and listening to the music of the era, especially
Cab Calloway and watching films like Stormy Weather. Because
it was a different time, I had to learn how to walk and even
sit differently. Men didn’t slouch. They sat up straight
with their chest poked out. They exuded class. Now everyone
is laid back, and maybe on Sunday you dress up. Then, everyone
dressed up and on Sunday they would relax. That is what I
love about making movies – you get to live out certain
Q: You guys were babe magnets in the film.
ANDRE and ANTWAN: Man let’s
talk about the ladies.
Q: Do you think that is close to the truth?
ANTWAN: Look, we are out here just doing what we do and
a lot of women just appreciate what we do.
Q: What was it like being a mortician?
ANDRE: Before we started the film,
I did sit down with morticians and went to the room where
they do what they do. They are cool people and not creepy,
although I did find out that a lot of them drink a lot.
As for doing movies, you get to do cool things and that
is the best thing about movie making. It’s not glamorous. It’s
a lot of work.
Q: Have you thought about having more training?
ANDRE: I have mixed thoughts about
the studying thing. I think there are techniques that you
can learn about lighting and hitting your mark. But I have
learned that it is something innate in you that makes you
who you are. Johnny Depp doesn’t
need a class. He just has something about him. There are
classes that can teach you to speak up and project, but what
people buy into, I find, is that which makes you who you
are. I am sure there are some vocal classes that could be
important. We are both from the South where you might need
to get an accent down.
ANTWAN: Talking to different directors
and veteran actors on set, I have learned that it is all
about timing. You have to keep yourself in the moment.
I don’t know if a class
can teach you how to play a person or a certain type of role.
I think you need to be aware of your surroundings, but as
we are always in the studio, I don’t know when we would
even find the time to go do some training.
Q: In that respect, what does acting
then give you that music doesn’t or vice versa?
ANDRE: Music is having full control.
We produce and write and it’s totally our baby from start to finish. You
can go to the studio if you want or go home if you want.
In a film, you are part of this collective 200 plus family.
You have to wake up and be disciplined. We’ve been
our own bosses for 13 years, so this was a change. When you
are an entertainer, even though we can still go to the mall
and stuff, you aren’t really a normal person anymore
- people are looking at you all of the time, trying to peer
into your life. When you are on screen, you get to play a
normal person, a civilian. And that is cool.
Q: Did you have the same level of confidence in movies that
you do have playing music?
ANDRE: I never thought about it like
that. We’ve tried
to do a film, since the beginning, but only because of the
success of Speakerbox/The Love Below were we able to get
this chance. We never had time to think about this or what
would happen if we failed.
Q: What is confidence to you?
ANDRE: Confidence is knowing who you
are. You don’t
have walk with a limp and have every word come out of your
mouth be a lie. That is not it. Everybody has something to
work with, and you have to work that thing. If you know that
your hair looks best parted on the side, then let it work
Q: Not having a lot of movie training, what was it like
to work with people like Terrence Howard? How much did they
lend to your own performances?
ANTWAN: This was my first film and
the first day we shot, I did the scene where I am on the
sidewalk with my wife and kids shopping. I was so nervous,
but I was gearing up for it. Ben Vereen was my mentor and
he was psyching me up before Terrence got there. He said ‘Terrence is a veteran
actor who will come on set in character and he won’t
like you. He’ll treat you like shit. He might even
try and sucker you in by being your friend just to throw
you off. You can’t let him take the scene away from
you. You have to go toe to toe with him.’ When Terrence
showed up, he was in the make-up room and my heart was beating
so fast. He turned and saw me and said, ‘Man, what’s
up man? I have been checking you out and would love to play
some songs with you.’ I knew that he was trying to
sucker me in. [Laughs.] I told Ben that he wanted to come
to my trailer and play some songs, and Ben said ‘don’t
let him do it.’ I knew I had to watch him, but then
he did come by and I realized he was a good guy. Anyway,
back to the first day of shooting, I was so nervous so I
turned the nervousness into the anger that I needed for the
scene. After we shot a couple of times, Terrence told me
that I had him shook up from the way I was standing. He honestly
felt that I wanted to kill him. For him to tell me that really
gave me the confidence, and it was all good after that.
Q: What about some of the other veteran actors you worked
with? What did you learn from them?
ANDRE: You take this one. You got to work with way more
people than I did. I was always at home.
ANTWAN: It was fun. For the most part,
you learned a little something from each person. I didn’t want them to think
that this was just another rap guy coming in to make a movie.
You wanted them to know you were dead serious about it. Once
they got to know you and the reasons why we wanted to be
on screen, we all became this big family and played off each
other. Faizon was the big funny brother. Paula Jay was all
fun. Cicely Tyson was so serious. When I did the scene with
her, she was so serious, even with the kids. She would turn
around and tell the kids to stop moving. I was on the outside
of the car thinking, ‘damn, those are just some kids,’ but
she was serious. [Laughs.]
Q: You guys didn’t have many
scenes together. Did that reflect a decision to keep your
personalities more separate?
ANTWAN: That was another great call
by Bryan. He didn’t
want to make a buddy-buddy type film. By telling two stories
of this brotherhood, where the stories weave in and out of
each other, it was more interesting that way. By separating
the two, you got to see more about them individually.
ANDRE: Both characters were really
tight and they didn’t
have to be in the same space. That is the way it is for us.
We’ve been friends since the 10th grade, before we
even started doing music. We were just kids getting into
music and getting on girls. That is always going to be there.
ANTWAN: Not for me. I’m married.
[Laughs.] We do everything except for that.
Q: Can you address the future of Outkast? Ever since the
release of your last album, people have been suggesting that
you two are drifting apart and might go your separate ways.
ANTWAN: We are glad you asked that question.
ANDRE: As far as the future of Outkast,
we are not saying what we’ll do next. We only know what we are doing
now and that is promoting Idlewild. As far as the rumors
go, we have been doing this for 13 years and we haven’t
shot anyone or killed anyone or slapped anyone. I haven’t
slept with Paris Hilton. So what can they talk about with
us? When Andre says that he doesn’t want to go on tour
or be part of a major record label, that is just a personal
choice. We both understand each other. We are not breaking
up or drifting apart. We hang out but don’t live in
the same house anymore. It’s like a brother you grow
up with, it is time you find your own house and your own
family. I have my son, and it’s a new game. We still
trip out like it is 10th grade.
ANTWAN: Yes, sometimes we’d get mad when they would
say that stuff. They would interview us and try and paint
their own picture about us. The whole time they were interviewing
us, we’d be laughing and giggling, but they’d
write their story about how we were distant and pulling apart.
It was stupid stuff, but we have been saying for years, this
is all about the music and our personal life is our business.
We had this brainchild for the group Outkast and that was
our idea. That principle hasn’t left us and no music
or movies can break that up. This is my dog for life.
Q: Did you talk to the kids that played you as kids in the
film to ensure some kind of transition?
ANTWAN: When they cast those boys,
they were trying to see who best represented us as characters.
I think they did study us. I didn’t get a chance to meet Bobby Jay, the kid
they got to play me, until I went down one day to watch them
shoot. Everybody kept telling me that I had to get down there
because this little boy was acting crazy just like me. He
was amazing and so smart. He was a little bitty “Boi
Q: Bryan had such a kinetic style of shooting this movie.
What were your thoughts when you realized that you would
be talking with a rooster in a flask or to animated musical
notes on the piano? How much were you able to visualize what
he was planning on doing?
ANDRE: We called those extra added
values ‘the funk
that you bring to the film.’ We are film fans, and
we’d hear Bryan talk about references to films like
Amelie. We knew what kind of film we wanted to make so it
was expected. We knew it couldn’t be straight and narrow,
and it had to be magical.
ANTWAN: As far as interacting with the flask, it was like
holding an iPod and having it talk back. You just have to
believe it. There was nobody delivering those lines back
to me. I was just talking to a flask, that sometimes had
Hennessey in it, and I just started believing what was going
on. I saw the film last night and I was tripped out.
Q: How about learning to tap dance? What was that like?
ANDRE: I had never tapped dance before and I had about two
weeks to learn. I liked it.
Q: What were your favorite musicals growing up?
ANDRE: Singing in the Rain and The Sound of Music were the
ones I loved. Growing up watching them I remember that they
were all so big.
Q: With this new taste of making movies, is there a role
you can foresee yourself playing?
ANTWAN: I could see myself playing Bill Clinton. I just
want to get into make-up for that Lewinsky scene.
ANDRE: I would love to play Pele.
I don’t play soccer
but I think he has a great story.