"She can hit the high notes, so I have no fear that she'll knock it out."
These were the forward-thinking words of Emmy-nominated actor Jeremy Piven this week regarding his newest co-star, chart-topping musician and future movie star Alicia Keys (see "Alicia Keys Targeting Film Assassin Role Alongside Affleck"). Keys will join Piven in "Smokin' Aces," a "Midnight Run"-type action comedy about an on-the-lam standup comedian (Piven) and the FBI agent attempting to keep him alive. The fast-talking "Entourage" actor extended his welcoming arms wide open while discussing his rookie acting partner.
"I'm a huge fan of hers," Piven said of Keys, who will play an assassin in the film. "It's a completely original piece by a guy named Joe Carnahan ['Narc']. It's not necessarily derivative of any style — I guess maybe it's kind of like Tarantino, but it has its own unique voice. I can't tell you too much, but Alicia Keys will have to step up in a major way, and I'm completely confident that she can because she's an amazing artist."
The film, currently in pre-production, is also expected to star Ryan Reynolds and Ben Affleck. "I'm a magician," Piven revealed of his character, a Las Vegas performer named Buddy Israel. "I'm kind of like an eight-years-running entertainer of the year in cahoots with the mob, and I've fallen on some bad times. So Alicia must kill me, and that's all I can tell you."
The film could mark Keys' movie debut if it reaches the screen before her other announced project, "Compositions in Black and White," a film that would have the singer playing (appropriately enough) a piano-playing prodigy (see "Alicia Keys To Play Biracial Piano Prodigy In First Movie"). Piven, who has made a career out of scene-stealing performances in everything from "Serendipity" to "Old School," nevertheless insisted that the 24-year-old Keys wouldn't need any acting lessons from him.
"I have no advice for Alicia, other than get out of her own way and be as strong on camera as she is on the mic," he said. "Then everybody wins."
For those also interested in her day job, the CD of Keys' recent "MTV Unplugged" performance will be in stores on October 11 (see "Alicia Keys Taps Mos Def, Common For 'Inspired' 'Unplugged' ").
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