BEVERLY HILLS — Nelly is the first to admit he's still learning to act, but whether he knows it or not he practiced a veteran technique known as method acting while shooting his new movie, "Snipes."
By day, he was Prolifik, a popular rap star recording his highly anticipated new album. By night, he was ... recording his own highly anticipated new album (Nellyville), along with the St. Lunatics' album Free City.
"I wanted to play something that would be easy to relate to, being my first time out," Nelly said, sitting in a posh, penthouse hotel suite. "I wanted to make it as easy on myself as possible. That's kind of why I picked the role."
Nelly can relate to Prolifik, but they are different people.
"Prolifik is a little more intense than Nelly is," the rapper said. "For me, it was an outlet, as far as just being loose with it, just doing what came natural to me, doing what I would do in that situation."
In "Snipes," which opened in select cities on Friday, Nelly's character is kidnapped by a gang of thugs who want the ruthless president of Prolifik's label — played by Dean Winters ("Conspiracy Theory") — to dish out a meaty ransom.
Named after the people who wallpaper city streets with stickers and posters promoting upcoming albums, the movie centers around a teenage snipe, played by Sam Jones III ("Zigzag"), who stumbles across a dead body at Prolifik's studio and mistakenly becomes the target of the studio head and the kidnappers.
Zoe Saldana ("Crossroads") and rapper Schoolly D also appear in the film, which is set in Philadelphia.
Nelly, who said director Rich Murray encouraged him to improvise, said the role in "Snipes" was a tremendous learning experience.
"The thing I probably learned was how to be patient from a lot of things," he said. "I thought maybe it would just be like a long video. Nah! Doing movies is different. It's so repetitive. But after you finish and you get a chance to see it, you see why everything is so over and over and how it comes together and stuff like that."
Nelly is reading scripts for his next film project, but he said he's more focused on his music career. "Dilemma," his single with Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland, is the #1 song in the country (see "Nelly Hit Forces Change In Plans For Destiny's Child LPs").
For more Hollywood happenings, check out MTV's Movie House.