Some might deem it sacrilegious to make a biopic on guitar great Jimi Hendrix, but Outkast's Andre 3000 feels confident that he's cool enough — ice cold, even — to pull it off.
"The Jimi Hendrix project is on its way," Andre promised last week on the set of "Be Cool," the sequel to the 1995 mob comedy "Get Shorty" (see "Outkast's Film Career Coming Into Focus"). "I've actually been trying to do this for four or five years," he said. "So I've read biographies, seen every documentary, seen every performance."
The Jimi Hendrix movie was conceived by the Hughes Brothers directorial tandem ("From Hell," "Menace II Society"). The team has shot about 15 minutes of rough footage, mostly to convey the visual style they're aiming for, but they're waiting on permission from the Hendrix estate before continuing.
Meanwhile, Andre has been sharpening his guitar — and air-guitar — skills. "I'm not a great guitar player," he explained. "I can just play [good] enough. But you can act, fill it out and flip this screen — because I'm not left-handed [like Hendrix] either."
In "Be Cool," Andre slips into a role that's closer to his actual experience: a rapper. "I didn't know whether I wanted to play a rapper or music producer or anything like that," he admitted. But director F. Gary Gray convinced him to take on the role of a pistol-whippin' thug rapper.
"We had a meeting at the hotel and he explained how he wanted the character to be. He said, 'Trust me. I didn't steer Chris Tucker wrong, Ice Cube wrong. I promise you. Just play this role.' "
Surrounded by such seasoned actors as Harvey Keitel, John Travolta and Vince Vaughn, Dre admitted to feeling slightly intimidated by being on the "Be Cool" set. "I've only done a small part in 'Hollywood Homicide,' and so to be around these great names — it's kinda scary. But I'm just watching and learning and paying attention to how they're doing it."
Dre insisted that he and Big Boi are still going forward with plans for an HBO-produced, Outkast period-piece drama. However, it's a project the group has talked about for six months with shooting yet to begin. The start date for the untitled flick is now scheduled for May.