Joel Silver joins this rap luminary for a little holiday joy and to discuss their latest project
At work, "Move B****, Get out dah way!" Has become an in-joke due to its use by the very suburban news anchor that once uttered it before interviewing Chris "Ludacris" Bridges on the air. In the past year, it has been shouted so many times by myself and many coworkers, that I say it on instinct. Especially when someone steps in front of me, blocking my path or vision.
Things came full circle last Thursday night when none other then the legendary wordsmith himself Ludacris stepped directly in front of me. He was blocking my view of a screen showing Fred Claus. I am not lying. Ludacris obstructed my view for a good five minutes, distracting me from the action going on in the prologue. I had no other recourse than to use the above dismissive. He was a good sport. He thought it was funny.
I sat right next to Ludacris and his two companions for the whole duration of Fred Claus, and the woman he was with exploded into uncontrollable fits of laughter whenever Mr. Bridges came on the screen. Chris' little posse was having a great time with it, and the feeling of joy was infectious. The rapper did look rather silly as an elf. Half way through the show, Ludacris uttered, "They paid me so much money for that?" He was completely dumbfounded. Though he isn't in the film for very long, his couple of scenes do nearly steal the show.
Last week, I was invited over to Warner Brothers studio lot for a chance to sit down with Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and producer Joel Silver to discuss the film and all things Christmas. Here's what the duo had to say...
Joel, I think comedy is the last genre you haven't fully come to dominate yet? Are you looking to overtake this genre as well?
Joel Silver: I thought Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was pretty funny, but nobody else did. I think this is a great idea for a movie. It came from the writer tucking her daughter into bed one night. Her daughter asked, "Does Santa have a family?" What a great idea to start a movie with. I think its fun. I think that Vince is great in it. I think that it is heartwarming. I think that it is a big, family, holiday classic movie,. I think that it has a lot of things going for it. I am real proud of it.
Do you put it together the same way you would any other movie?
Joel Silver: Oh, sure. David Dobkin is critical to a movie like this. He is a great talent. He understands humor so well. He has a great relationship with Vince. He got everyone in the movie he wanted. He wanted Paul, he wanted Kevin, and he wanted Chris. It was a big movie, it was an expensive movie, and we are fortunate to have all of our little friends here with us (points out the elves seated around the room). We made a vast, reality movie about the North Pole. I think it came out good.
Chris, how was the shooting process as far as the green screen goes, and getting your head on that little body?
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges": That was realistically my first time doing that. It was a little challenging. But it was fun, because I just kept laughing as I was doing it. There was a green screen there. I had to look at the screen and mimic the movements of the little person. Even when Vince picked him up, I had to stand on a chair to mimic those movements. As far as the neck and the body go, I had to coordinate everything. It took me about two days to get everything right. It was a fun process. I was laughing way before I saw the finished product. But if anybody remembers a couple of my music videos, where my head is on that baby? This process was kind of similar. I have done this in my music videos before.
What was your reaction to seeing it for the first time?
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges": Man, I was laughing even harder when I finally saw it. But they pinched my voice and made it even higher. So that was a funny element. But just the facial impressions I was making surprised me. I surprise my self sometimes, especially when I look at the screen. The scenes were crazy. Especially when he wanted to play his song, and got picked up. It was funny.
What was your thought process on picking this role?
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges": I took on this role because it was different than what I had already done, as far as acting. A lot of the roles that I have done have been serious. This is my first comedy/family film. I wanted to be able to take my daughter to the cinema to see this. When you look at some of my earlier videos, you will see that they are full of comedy. I love to laugh. I also really liked the cast. And I loved the script the first time I read it. It was laugh-out-loud funny.
Joel, how big of a challenge is balancing the broader comedy with the family elements that are contained within the film?
Joel Silver: The biggest problem with the movie for me was, I didn't want to bland Vince. I didn't want to take too much away from what he does. He has an R rated relevance and quality. I thought that we were able to balance it. We were able to keep him as Vince, but in a PG way. We didn't take away from what you expect of him. There is an adult quality to the film, in that I think adults will love it. But it really is a family movie. It was hard to get that tone, but everybody was very clear as to what we wanted to do. I think the last few scenes of that movie are very warm. And heartwarming. I think it works very well. With the comedy, I think it was hard to get the tone right. But I think everyone really did it.
How much are you actually involved on set?
Joel Silver: I'm there, I come by. It's a director's medium. I think any movie is a director's medium. But at the same time, I like to be a part of big movies that allow me to be a collaborator. This is a big special effect movie. It was complicated to make. And there is a lot that I can do. Its David's vision. He and Vince have a great rapport. He works well with improvisation. It's the process of keeping all of this going. Making sure that everyday we keep shooting. We never could figure out how to do the snow globe until the very last minute. I am really happy the way that all came out. I am there when I need to be there, we work it out, and it gets done.
We know you have Speed Racer in production. How is that looking?
Joel Silver: It's a wild ride. The Wachowski brothers? They can't do anything easy. They want to make everything as difficult as they possibly can. It's a movie that has a look you have never seen before. It's a vast panorama of a story. And they have a great cast. There is going to be a trailer out at Christmas. You will get to see that pretty soon. There are huge races and huge crowds. But there are no cars. It's all in the computer.
Chris, this is such a slammin' soundtrack, where are you on it?
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges": At the rolling credits, I actually have a remix of Here Comes Santa Claus. You can check that out. It's the Ludacris version. It's definitely something you should keep in your seat for.
For both of you, what is your fondest memory of your best Christmas?
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges": My memorable Christmas? I was six years old. In the middle of the night, I got up to go to the bathroom, and I saw my father eating Santa's cookies and milk. I was devastated. It was a traumatic experience. And I am still getting over that till this day. It had me analyzing the situation, and I realized at that moment that Santa Clause was not (****). It wasn't a good Christmas for me.
Joel Silver: I hope this is my best Christmas. I hope this movie is a big success, and it does really well. If that happens, then it will be a good Christmas.
Chris, did you base this DJ on anyone?
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges": Did I base it on anyone? No, it was written as DJ Donnie. I did a little adlibbing myself. But as far as I'm concerned, it was written the way I did it. I didn't have many choices. My main objective was to spin "Here Comes Santa Claus". But I used my previous DJ experience to come into this role.
Were you conscious not to have any religious themes in this movie?
Joel Silver: The way I feel about it, this is a big holiday family movie. It deals with Santa Claus. It deals with the North Pole. It deals with Santa Claus' family. I think it deals with the essence of giving. It's about giving. That is our theme. And this notion that there are no naughty kids. I think that was a good universal theme.
Fred Claus opens this Friday, November 9th, 2007.