Combustible Celluloid

Q&A with Andre Benjamin

Talking Tough

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

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Andre Benjamin, 31, is probably better known as Andre 3000, one half of the multi-million selling, Grammy-winning hip-hop group OutKast. While their song "Hey Ya!" permeated radio airwaves in 2003, Benjamin also made his movie debut in a small role in Ron Shelton's Hollywood Homicide. Earlier this year Benjamin scored a much showier role in Be Cool, as the brain-dead, trigger-happy Dabu. But now, in John Singleton's Four Brothers, he really gets to show his acting chops as one of four foster brothers (the others are played by Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson and Garrett Hedlund) who reunite in Detroit to solve the murder of their kindly foster mother.

JMA: There's a great chemistry between you and the other three "brothers."

AB: That was really a blessing because we didn't have any rehearsal time. We only had a week of hockey practice. So I guess a lot of the chemistry and the bonding came during that time. We got so comfortable with each other that we started to talk about each other. We started to team up on each other, and get on each other's nerves, and talk about each other's comebacks. So it was like we were really brothers for three months.

JMA: How was it working with an Oscar nominee like John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood)?

AB: He lets you go for it. If he needs something else, he'll let you know. In his head, he knows what he wants.

JMA: Did you have to work to change your accent for the film?

AB: I still have my Georgia accent, and that's one thing I have to work on, because I'd like to do a role where I don't walk the same or talk the same. On this one, I had a dialect coach and we had little voice samples from people from Detroit, but they sound like they're from the South. So John wanted me to keep my same voice.

JMA: Your character, Jeremiah, never seems to be around during the action scenes. Do you regret that?

AB: I know, man. I missed it all. Yeah, I wanted to do some action myself, but that wasn't Jeremiah's character. He's the responsible one of the bunch. He had a wife and two little kids, so he had way more to lose than any of his brothers. He couldn't do all of that. But maybe one day I'll get to have some action fun.

July 29, 2005

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