Malibu's Most Wanted: In the April 18th release Malibu's Most Wanted, Jamie Kennedy (star of The WB sketch comedy show “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment”) is B-Rad, an aspiring hip-hop artist desperate to show off his skills to the rap moguls whom he's sure will make him a star. Unfortunately, his efforts to sell himself as a hard-knock life master lyricist are undercut somewhat by the fact that he's a talent-free trust-fund baby from Malibu who practices his rhymes over frappuccinos in the local coffeehouse. Sensing a PR nightmare in the making, B-Rad's gubernatorial candidate dad (Ryan O'Neal) hires two out-of-work actors (Taye Diggs and Anthony Anderson) to kidnap his son, take him to South Central L.A. and “scare the white” back into him. Chaos, of course, ensues.
Lights Out recently joined Kennedy, Diggs and Anderson at a junket at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina Del Rey to discuss the film. The actors expounded on a number of topics, including stereotypes, rap music, offensive comedy and kangaroos.
Taye Diggs and Anthony Anderson
Q: What did you think of the quality of B-Rad's rap?
Taye: Is that what you want to call it? I though it was hilarious.
Taye: [Laughing] Okay, what did you think, Anthony?
Anthony:I thought it was bullSHIT. [Laughing] You can put that online. [Laughing] No…I mean, when I saw the movie, I found myself rooting for B-Rad—because his character really believed that that was who he was. And because of that, he had this endearing quality to me. And so, once Taye and I take Jamie to the nightclub in the movie to perform onstage, I think at that point, people really want him to succeed. They really want him to just basically rip shit. And when he doesn't, it's sort a let-down. It's like, ‘Wow! I was with you, but you really can't rap.' So—
[Taye leaves the room to quiet people talking in the hall]
Anthony:Taye's gonna go out there and whoop some ass. See, we were all quiet during their interviews and shit, and they gotta…
Anthony:You gotta put ‘em in their place, brother! ‘Cause I couldn't concentrate…
Q: Anyhow, do you know actors like your characters in the film, who are so into what's basically just a silly performance?
Taye: I wouldn't say I know actors that are into a silly performance, but I know—
Anthony:Hold on, hold on – whoa! What the hell's he talking about, a silly performance?
Q: Your characters in the film…
Anthony:Where're you going with this question?
Q: The intensity of the Method your characters go into for such a superficial stereotype, that of the gun-toting South Central thug. It's a lot of effort for just a performance—
Anthony:[Laughing] How long have you been reporting, again?
Taye: Every actor that has been around other actors, or has studied long enough, or has studied at all, knows other cats like this who are so into, uhh, the craft, and the exploration—
Anthony:Is that what he was asking about, about our methods and stuff?
Taye: I believe so. Am I—
Anthony:Don't put words in his mouth.
Taye: Well, I think so.
Taye: That's the question I'm answering.
Anthony:Okay, cool. ‘Cause—
Taye: And so I think, it is yes. And the interesting thing, being an African-American actor, is that we're constantly challenged with the duality of acting stereotypically “black,” and just acting. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck don't have to read for a role and ask themselves, ‘Okay, do they want me to say this word like this, or can I just be myself?' I know tons of black actors that didn't grow up in the ‘hood, and don't have their “gangster lingo” down, who take it to another level when they go in for a gangster role. I think that that's very interesting.
If you really look, this movie's kinda deep, because of the comments that it's making. It says something about stereotypes—you know, what is stereotypically “black”, what is stereotypically “white”—but then, if you really think about it, what is “acting white”? Was my character in the film “acting white” because he went to Juilliard and used correct enunciation? What makes B-Rad act “black”? Because he wears his hat on the side of his head? Or that he sags his pants? One of the reasons I was drawn to this picture was because it kinda brings it all up to the top. And you know, we can all laugh—and we hopefully will laugh, on the surface—but it's actually saying something, about all of that.
Q: What kind of effect do you hope this movie will have on suburban white kids?
Taye: I hope they get a kick out of it.
Anthony:I think it's something of a true depiction of a lot of kids who are out there in society today. I think they will identify with this and embrace it, because while watching this, they're gonna be watching themselves on film.
Taye: They'll be able to make fun of themselves…because Jamie plays a parody. A lot of these kids, they take themselves so seriously. They won't ever admit that they're watching themselves.
Q: How will it play in South Central?
Taye: I'm hoping they'll laugh, too. That's another one of the reasons I was drawn to this movie. I think it has something for everybody to laugh at.
Anthony:Suburban people will laugh with this; South Central people will laugh at this.
Q: This is probably you guys' first gay role, right? This is the first time you guys have done gay, wouldn't you say?
Anthony:The first one that we've allowed on-camera [laughing].
Taye: You know, I can't take credit for it. I wish I had thought of that…
Anthony:That's like the dude yesterday who said, “Anthony, I'm just really waiting for you to get that big, juicy homosexual role.”
Anthony:I just looked him right in his face and said, “I bet you are…” [Laughing]
Q: Anthony, what's the latest on Kangaroo Jack 2?
Anthony:They're working on that right now.
Taye: For real?!
Anthony:Yeah, I'm serious! Like when the dude asked me, “Are you going back to Australia to shoot it?” I'm like, “No, the kangaroo's gonna be in Brooklyn [laughing].”
Q: I thought he was gonna be in Vegas?
Anthony:They're tossing up Vegas, they're tossing up a lot of places. Yeah, it's wild. [Laughing] The kangaroo's in trouble.JAMIE KENNEDY
Q: When you do a movie like this that's marketed to such a wide audience, do you take into account whether anyone will be offended by it?
Jamie:Well, I don't think the movie's offensive. I mean, I've seen the movie with black audiences and white audiences, and black audiences seem to like it even more. Anything that could be offensive, or if we thought we pushed the line, we would go to people in our cast, and they would tell us if they thought we crossed the line.
Q: Who is this character based on? Do you know someone like this?
Jamie:I think we all do. That's one of the things I like about the movie. But it was about a character—a white guy—who thinks he has street credentials. But he doesn't know anything about the hood. Everything he learned about the hood, he learned on TV. And he's wanted to take the music and the culture and the dress—the fun things—but he's never lived through the stress and the strife.
Q: How did you come up with the character of B-Rad?
Jamie:I used to see this white kid in a West Hollywood coffee shop–he was always ordering, like, vanilla lattes. And he'd be like, “Hey, I want some soy milk, bitch! Don't you know I'm lactose intolerant?”
Q: The origins of the script—was it you r idea, originally?
Jamie:The character was my idea. As for the script, my friend Nick Swardson and I wrote an outline of one, and the guys from my show took that and ran with it.
Q: Do you ever see turning “The Jamie Kennedy Experience” into a full-length movie, like Jackass?
Jamie:Yeah! Oh, yeah. I would love to do that. We would really have to come up with some elaborate scenarios, though. We've actually talked about that. I thought Jackass was really, really funny.
Q: Did you have any influence over the casting, particularly Bo Derek as your mom and Ryan O'Neal as your father?
Jamie:No—but when those ideas were brought to us, I was definitely behind it 100%. I thought that would be cool.
Q: Yeah, ‘cause Bo Derek's an icon.
Jamie:She was the original Allen Iverson. Cornrows!
Q: Did you guys talk a lot on set?
Jamie:Every time I tried to, John Corbett was always making out with her.
Q: Your TV show is very cheap to produce, and Malibu's Most Wanted has a small budget, as well. Doing things on a low-budget has kind of become your trademark.
Jamie:I don't think movies should be expensive unless there's a lot of special effects. The number one thing a movie should have is a good story. It doesn't have to be more than $15 million, and that's what I was aiming for. This may sound like a joke, but it isn't: I think the Olsen twins are, like, geniuses. They created their own niche [of low-budget, direct-to-video films]; they're good at it and they market it well.
Q: But your next one, The Mask 2, is gonna be a big CG movie.
Jamie:That would be a big one, yeah.
Q: What do you know about how much they're spending?
Jamie:Uhh…it's gonna be pretty expensive.
Q: Have you done makeup tests or anything?
Jamie:No, we're still talking about the parameters of my schedule, the deal, and stuff like that. But I've seen pictures; it'll be massive.
Q: Have you given up on drama and decided that you're just gonna be a comic actor?
Jamie:No! People like to laugh, and they like me in that. I haven't really ever had the chance to sink my teeth into a real drama yet.
Q: What about Three Kings?
Jamie:Yeah…[pause] but I was still, like, the comic relief. I dunno. Hollywood's gonna have to give me a shot.
Q: What makes you laugh?
Jamie:Documentaries. I know; that sounds weird. But American Movie…that was a genius documentary. And “Blind Date” is hilarious. Basically, anything with real people acting stupid.
Q: Do you see kids imitating you because of this movie?
Jamie:Uhh, yeah, maybe, hopefully.
Q: Or maybe there'll be some kids that'll stop acting like your character in the film?
Jamie:That's the thing. Half of the movie was a comment on poseurs; the other half was that there are kids out there that really are like that, who are like B-Rad. The message is to let them be who they are.
Q: Well, so, in other words, this guy in the West Hollywood coffee shop that you used to see…do you think he might've just been—
Jamie:I just think he was a poseur. Totally.
Q: Why would a rich, white kid want to act “black” in the first place? I mean, he's got everything he could want on earth, why would he want to act like someone who's struggling and doesn't have anything?
Jamie:That's a good question. I can only give you an answer from the white perspective. Part of it is, from a white perspective, being black is cool. They have their own language, their own dress, their own set of rules, morals…you see the guys in the videos drinking champagne without any glasses. They got girls that they refer to as their ‘hos—it's exciting. You know, and it's something to be a part of, so young, white culture—
Q: But not all of black culture embraces that.
Jamie:No, no, no—I'm just saying that it's that part, that certain facet of black culture, that white kids latch onto.
Q: But B-Rad don't really seem like a character that would go into Starbucks and say “Bitch, I want my coffee!” Was that conscious of your character?
Jamie:Part of it is the character. We didn't want B-Rad doing that; you'd hate him in two seconds and you'd want to punch his face in. The other part is, you know, me—I'm a sensitive guy, I get my feelings hurt a lot. I don't like to hurt other peoples' feelings.