For all the talk about the Outkast movie in recent years, few details have actually surfaced. But now that the HBO-produced movie starring Andre 3000 and Big Boi is finished shooting, we went after its director, Bryan Barber, the group's longtime go-to video director, to fill us in. Here's what we discovered:
- Yes, it's really coming out. "Probably mid-June," Barber said. "The rumor is that it'll hit theaters first. I'm not supposed to spread the rumor, but I am."
- No, it's not really called "My Life in Idlewild." "I was kidding around when I said that title, because where it takes place is called Idlewild," Barber said. "I didn't think anyone would like it. Originally it was called 'Speakerboxxx' and I might still call it that. 'Speakerboxxx' is what the film is. It's actually the first part to another film I wrote, 'The Love Below,' which I wrote for Andre."
- However, it's not really based on Big Boi's album. "I had this idea in my mind for two years and wrote it loosely based on my life and wrote their parts loosely based on some of our experiences together as well," Barber said. "Basically, Dre and Big Boi have coinciding stories. Big Boi's in a love triangle and has to choose between his dream of being a businessman and his family. And Dre's is more of a tragic love story. He falls in love with someone from out of town, which motivates him to follow his dream."
- Yes, it's really a musical. "It's just something different, out of the ordinary," Barber said. "It's not really a hip-hop movie at all, it just happens to have two major hip-hop stars in it. It's more of a 1930s musical. I took some of the music from Outkast and set it in that time. That's one of the things I set out to do. I was trying to make a statement on how music from today could have been music from the 1930s. Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington, the pace of their music is about the same as rap. The things they talked about were the same, carrying guns and carrying knives or women cheating. There's a lot of similarities and I wanted to show how it could have been a part of that era."
- However, it's still sort of a hip-hop movie. "They mostly rap in it," Barber said. "There are some new tracks and Outkast songs I think should have been released as singles, as well as some old 1930s music mixed in there."
- No, Rosario Dawson isn't in it. She couldn't fit it in her schedule, but Terrence Howard and Paula Jai Parker, both of the Sundance hit "Hustle & Flow," could, along with Ving Rhames, Faizon Love, Malinda Williams and Cicely Tyson.
- No, there are no other rappers in it. "I wanted to surround them with actors that had a history of feature films," Barber said. "The predictable thing is when you surround rappers in a movie with their peers. And everyone knows Outkast is everything but predictable."
- But there are a few singers. "Macy Gray is great in the movie as a jaded singer," Barber said. "She opens the movie. She sings a song that Dre wrote and it's crazy. When people see her number, it's gonna blow their minds." Vocal powerhouse Patti LaBelle co-stars as well.
- No, it wasn't shot in Outkast and Barber's hometown of Atlanta. "We would have loved to have shot in Atlanta, but it didn't offer the old locations," Barber said. "We shot on location in Wilmington, North Carolina, and used a studio there. We battled a hurricane for a lot of filming, but we survived."
- And, finally, yes, it'll look like an Outkast video. "There's some magical twists here and there — I guess that's what I bring to directing," Barber said. "I set out to do something I had never seen before."
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