Editor's note: The following interview was conducted in April. Aaliyah died in a plane crash on August 25.
Just like there will always be actors who really want to direct, there will be pop stars who want to act. But for every Will Smith, there's a dozen Spice Girls who give the cross-over a bad name. Thankfully, enigmatic R&B singer Aaliyah isn't going the "Spice World" route. Not only has she rung up chart hits, but she's also building a résumé as a bankable actress who brings a sense of adventure and intrigue to her roles.
Now, if only the 22-year-old would work a bit faster in the studio. Fans had to wait five years between the release of 1996's One in a Million and her just-released, self-titled, third album. In the interim, Aaliyah did some soundtrack songs ("Anastasia," "Dr. Dolittle") and had a well-received big screen debut in the urban drama "Romeo Must Die." Judging by "We Need a Resolution," the sexy first single from her new album, the wait was worth it. Aaliyah told Elon Johnson and Curtis Waller what it felt like to turn into a vampire for her next role, why she loves snakes and why information on her part in the upcoming sequels to the "Matrix" is strictly on a need-to-know basis. And you don't need to know ... yet.
MTV: Your video for "We Need a Resolution" and the album both feature a snake theme. What's that all about?
Aaliyah: I first dealt with snakes when I was in Australia and I did the photo shoot for the album. We used five pythons in the shoot. At first, I was a little nervous, but once I started to handle them, I totally fell in love and felt an affinity toward them. They're very mysterious creatures. They live in solitude, [and] there are times in my life [when] I just want to be by myself. There are times I can't even figure myself out. I feel they are very complex creatures, [but] at the same time, they're sexy, too. That's why they represent Aaliyah pretty well. They're dangerous, but quite beautiful. I thought that it would be an animal that could represent me on this album, so I wanted to take it from the photo shoot to the video and probably throughout the whole project. [RealVideo]
MTV: It doesn't really seem like it's been five years since your last album, because your presence has been constant.
Aaliyah: That was something that I wanted to do. I wanted to take a break after One in a Million to just relax, think about how I wanted to approach the next album. Then, when I was ready to start back up, "Romeo" happened, and so I had to take another break and do that film and then do the soundtrack, then promote it. The break turned into a longer break than I anticipated.
MTV: What were you doing outside of the movie that prolonged releasing another album?
Aaliyah: The movies actually prolonged the album. I started working on this third album before I did "Romeo Must Die." When that project came up, I took a break from [the album] to do [the movie]. I took a conscious break before starting to record, because I wanted to rejuvenate and get my creative juices flowing. But then the other projects came up. That's what pushed the album back even further. When I did [the movie] "Queen of the Damned," I decided to record the album at the same time so that I could release [it] this year. [RealVideo]
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