The actor gets in Deep trouble with Tyrese and The Game in his new film
Normally, when most actors play such a memorable character, they try to change it up a little on their next role. Take Larenz Tate for example - he was gang partners with Ludacris in the Oscar-winning film Crash.
In his newest film, Waist Deep, he plays the gangster, Lucky - with two partners, on different sides of the fence. He's got allegiance to his brother, Tyrese Gibson; however, he's also got ties to one of the leaders of another gang, Big Meat (The Game). When Tyrese has his son kidnapped in an attempted carjacking, Larenz must face a difficult challenge - stick with the family or sell them out to Big Meat.
We sat down with Larenz to ask him his opinion on that topic and to talk about what it was like to be on the set with the other cast members of Waist Deep, Tyrese, The Game, and Meagan Good. He also talked about working with writer/director, Vondie Curtis-Hall on this film.
Check out what he had to say:
When did you sign on; before or after Tyrese was attached? Did you two get together and talk about the film?
Larenz Tate: Oh, Tyrese was attached; I had been tracking this movie for a long time. I really liked this film and I heard that the people producing movie were out to get Tyrese to be in the lead role. I thought that was a good choice, and I said, 'I can be this guy.' I mean, it was one of those little movies that you want to be a part of like Crash. I just wanted to be a part of this movie because it has some elements that were interesting to me. I got involved, I would say, right after Tyrese was attached, but I'm sure that they were looking for a ton of actors for the character.
Was there something about the character?
Larenz Tate: The character originally was not 'Lucky;' it was a character named 'Wannabe.' Wannabe was the kind of character that I didn't really believe I could do or that I wouldn't really do justice for. That kind of a character, I just thought to myself that I wasn't going to elevate the character in any way. So I talked to Vondie and we discussed this whole Lucky character; Lucky is a guy who believes that all luck is on his side, but the irony is that he's not so very lucky and you see that in the movie. The Lucky character, people kind of suggested that he might be shady or wondered if he was a good guy - I think being from the streets this guy is a product of his environment and there is a certain street code that you sort of have to live by and it's not always a nice way of handling business, handling street business. So I thought that the dynamic between my character Lucky and Tyrese and his son and Game's character was really great. It had this nice family dynamic, this father son dynamic and then I'm their cousin, but I'm really the liaison between Tyrese's character and Game's character. I have all these street ties and so I'm trying to my best to help these guys have a meeting of the minds. Clearly though, with Game's character - you can't have a meeting of the mind with a guy like that. He's Big Meat and he's of the street, from the street and there is no other way; he lives and dies by the sword. I understand that; my character definitely understands and so I'm doing my very best to make everything go smooth and take certain matters into my hands and it doesn't always turn out the way that Lucky wants it to turn out.
What's with the name Wannabe?
Larenz Tate: Just the name itself suggested that he was trying to be something that he's not and he could've been interpreted very much as a caricature, and when you're trying to do a film that has some real elements to it, dealing with life and death matters, I didn't want to do the whole caricature thing. I just wanted to bring something a little more real and authentic and honest to the guy whether he was shady or not. I wanted to bring something that was more realistic and character driven. For me, Lucky was someone closer to what I wanted to play; I wanted to bring something, again, that was realistic. I really thought that it was great that Vondie pressed for the moment when I prove not only to Tyrese's character, but to myself that I wasn't the shady cousin or that I wasn't the shady guy. I was able to do a heroic thing in the film to help save his son and I liked the idea that for all of those Lucky's that are out there, when it comes to family you have to step up. Whether there is street code or not you definitely have to step up.
If you were in Lucky's position where would your loyalties lay?
Larenz Tate: To the family, definitely to the family; and that's the thing that I wanted to continue to reiterate. In that first scene where Tyrese and I were sort of arguing and were in that pushing match, before I leave the house we talked about family. 'We're still family right?' Even though we fought and we're about to tear each other's heads off, at the end of the day we're still family. I have two brothers and I know what that's like; my brothers and I have fought many times. My mother and father, fortunately, they didn't go for all of that fist fighting and so we would have to find other things to compete at - basketball, football and hey, if I knocked him on his back on the court it's fair game. But I definitely lean towards the family.
What do you look for in a script before you do a movie?
Larenz Tate: I mean, what I look for in a script is the plot point and whether they're strong, obviously, or not, whether the characters are rich or not, and if I can do justice to the character or not. Some movies you look at and the script is so bad that no one can do anything with the script. I mean, that's probably why Denzel Washington turns down so much. It's like why go through all of the ups and downs of trying to have a phenomenal performance when the movie is just bad all around. So I try to look for things where I believe the characters are rich and something that I think can score in. It doesn't matter to me what size the role is. I did the Ray Charles story (Ray) and played a young Quincy. When they came to me to play a young Quincy I said yes because the script and all of the components were right and I felt for that small period of camera time that I could score. That was a fun experience. So I look for all of that and a fun experience, and the experience on Waist Deep was trying to do something that was a little bit more edgy. I thought that the components were right. I think that really in Waist Deep the father/son dynamic really moved me and I liked that.
Are you going to do any more TV?
Larenz Tate: I'm going on to another CBS show where I play a young politician. I play the chief of staff at the city hall with the mayor - Joey Pants (Pantoliano) and myself; it's called Waterfront right now - that's the working title. I play this young politician who is coming to Providence, Rhode Island under some circumstances that I'm not really aware of. I don't really want to go there, but he sort of ambushes me, Joey's character which is the mayor. He wants me to be his right hand man because his right hand man is being indicted. So he's looking for a nicer image and we have this banter throughout the entire show because I don't really want to be in Providence, Rhode Island and I don't want to be with this guy. But it wouldn't be a TV show if I didn't stick it out, so I wanted to go and do some things because I've been reading a lot of scripts and I found that in television there is some really good shows out there. I mean, I look at Grey's Anatomy and I look at some of these shows out there, Lost, and there is some pretty good writing on these shows. I said to myself that I could either continue to look for someone to write a cool suspense action film where I'm this young attorney or doctor - I can do that, but I would be waiting for a long time. So I decided to step up to the plate when they offered me the TV show.
What did you think of the film when you first saw it?
Larenz Tate: I mean, there is a lot of good parts in the movies; I like a lot of the stuff between Tyrese and I. I wish that we had more stuff and I like the stuff between Game and myself; there is a lot of good stuff.
You can see Larenz with Tyrese, The Game, and Meagan Good in Waist Deep when it opens in theaters June 23rd; it's rated R.