Comedians becoming actors is as a natural as caterpillars becoming butterflies. Eddie Griffin and Katt Williams are two perfect examples of this. Playing the retired pimps Pope Sweet Jesus (Griffin) and Lord Have Mercy (Williams) in the new Eddie Murphy film Norbit, these two recently sat down to discuss their work in this hilarious movie.
Norbit (Eddie Murphy) is a meek guy pressed into marrying a monstrous woman (also Murphy), only to meet the woman of his dreams (Thandie Newton). Cuba Gooding Jr. takes the role of Newton's boyfriend, while Eddie Griffin stars as a retired pimp. Terry Crews is in as one of Norbit's in-laws.
What is Norbit about?
Eddie Griffin:Norbit is about, uh, Eddie Murphy, playing three characters, it's, uh, about a young man who's a child at heart, uh, uh, damn near mentally retarded, and he's surrounded by this huge woman, who...
Katt Williams: Surrounded.
Eddie Griffin: ...uh, uh, uh, surrounds him, literally.
Tell us about your roles in Norbit.
Eddie Griffin: Uh, me and, uh, Katt Williams play, uh, Pope Sweet Jesus, and Lord Have Mercy, who are retired pimps that own a rib shack and all the ex-ho's are now waitresses. And, uh, the entire neighborhood, basically, cares for Norbit because he's, you know, a, it's a big kid.
Katt Williams: It was a stretch for us, you know, we had to do a lot of research 'cause, you know, that, that world is so foreign to us, that whole pimp world, so it was, it was necessary that for, you know, a period of six months that we, um, dealt with the girls and...
Eddie Griffin: That was a whole lot of, uh, rehearsing, man.
Katt Williams: ...yeah, it was a seedy environment, the strip clubs.
Eddie Griffin: I mean, the pimps, convention and...
Katt Williams: It was, it was, uh, probably the hardest piece I've ever worked on.
Did you do much ad-libbing in the movie?
Eddie Griffin: They wanna ask Murphy a question and said, uh, is it cool to adlib? He said, we didn't hire you all 'cause you ain't funny, he said, if it's funny, we'll keep it, and, uh, you know, he kept most if it, there was a couple of people that tried it and...
Katt Williams: Yeah, it didn't work out so well.
Eddie Griffin: ...didn't work out, but, uh, yeah.
Katt Williams: But improv's a crazy thing.
Eddie Griffin: You know, but it's a crazy thing, you either got it or you don't.
Katt Williams: Or, or you don't.
Eddie Griffin: And, you know, if you don't, please just leave it alone, 'cause...
Katt Williams: I was playing a sidekick, so I got to just repeat whatever he said, he like, what? I, what? And that was...
Eddie Griffin: No, the soliloquy, dog when you threw down on the...
Katt Williams: Yes.
Eddie Griffin: ...the, uh, sandwich salad twist with the...
Katt Williams: Yes.
Eddie Griffin: ...butterneck, uh, roll.
Katt Williams: Yeah, well...
Eddie Griffin: That, that, yeah.
Katt Williams: Cauliflower reduction.
Eddie Griffin: I don't know, when you see it, it's about five minutes and they kept all the food groups then bam, and then it's $14.95.
Katt Williams: Yeah.
What was it like working with Eddie Griffin?
Eddie Griffin: Uh, you know, uh, known the brother for about 17 years so finally working with the dude, you know, was like, uh, uh, you know, one of the highpoints in a brother's career, you know, 'cause you got a, a, a plethora of talent in this one film. You got that many funny guns in the house, me, myself, Katt Williams, Marlon Wayans , you know, uh, Cuba Gooding Jr., you know, you, uh, it's a, it's a, it's a lot of gun slingers in the house. So it's like going to the all-star game, you know, so you got the baddest cats from every team in one game. You gotta step your game up, so everybody came to the plate with their A-game.
Katt Williams: Eddie, you couldn't find him in the characters, like, you know, from watching it as a fan when he plays different characters, you're always looking and going, oh yeah, you could tell it's, but in, in person there were times when I, I would spend, I thought one time that I had just spent 45 minutes talking to Eddie Murphy and, and found out later that it was actually the stunt double, and, and I had, had a deep conversation about my whole film career and, uh, you know.
Anyhow this stunt double had just put me in a couple movies and it was, it was disconcerting but it just shows you, how good the work was. It's cool.
Eddie Griffin: I gave him a nickname called Eddie Morphin.
Katt Williams: Yeah.
Eddie Griffin: You know, he has the ability to morph, you know, he, he can take himself and put it in a little closet in his mind somewhere... and allow that character to take over, 'cause when you look through all that make-up, you don't see Eddie's eyes, you know, when he was, uh, Mr. Wong, I mean, we're standing up on the church...
Katt Williams: Yeah.
Eddie Griffin: ...and the dude turned around and look at you, and them eyes is Mr. Wong, and Eddie ain't in there, and then when they yell cut, he'd start talking to us as Eddie, so it's this...
Katt Williams: Yep.
Eddie Griffin: ...Chinese dude with Eddie coming out of it now. Yeah.
Katt Williams: Yeah, it's great. He's the best, he's the best at it, and, and a lot have emulated him...
Eddie Griffin: Mm hmm.
Katt Williams: ...uh, so, but you, as Eddie was saying, you know, you gotta be a special type of person to be able to do it, yeah, it's, yeah.
Eddie Griffin: You gotta have that gift to morph, you know, a lot of people do characters, you see them, yeah man, yeah, nah, nah, it's a character. He's doing morphs.
Katt Williams: Right. Yeah, he actually becomes the person, which I, I suppose as an actor is the highest complement.
What is your favorite part Norbit?
Eddie Griffin: Yeah, my most, uh, exciting part, uh, was, I'd have to say was, uh, the rib shack is what I'd like to see, I'd like to see the rib shack.
Katt Williams: Yeah, that's a good scene.
Eddie Griffin: Yes, 'cause, uh, that's a good scene, yeah.
Katt Williams: It's a good scene.
What can audiences can expect from Norbit?
Eddie Griffin: Uh, they can expect to laugh and spit popcorn in the back of the person's head in front of them. And they can expect to want to come back and see it again, yeah.
Katt Williams: The, the secret of the whole movie, and you probably already know this 'cause it's all over the internet, but the whole, it just came out, that, you know, Eddie Griffin and I are also playing dual roles, in the movie.
Eddie Griffin: Yes indeedy.
Katt Williams: And so it's gonna be really fun for the audience (LAUGH) to try to figure out who else Eddie Griffen is playing in the movie, as, as well as myself, but it's, it's just a little.
Eddie Griffin: You have to deduct in there and catch it like, oh...
Katt Williams: ...oh, that's Eddie Griffin playing that character, it's, it's, you know, it's...
Eddie Griffin: Yeah, yeah, it's, hey that's Katt Williams.
Katt Williams: It's fun, you know, it was fun.
Eddie Griffin: Yeah.
Norbit opens February 9 from Paramount and DreamWorks Pictures.