NEW YORK — It’s not quite the same sort of remix he’s used to, but Diddy’s taking the hit Broadway play he starred in, “A Raisin in the Sun,” and turning it into a movie.
And although he’s already played the part, the rap mogul is going to dig a little deeper to prep for shoot by giving up most of his worldly possessions — for a limited time, anyway.
“I’m going to do it differently than anybody can expect me to do it,” Diddy said Monday at a dinner celebrating Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people (see “Diddy, Daddy Yankee, Angelina Jolie Rub Elbows With Bush On Time List” ). “I’m going to get raw and ready, do some hard work for this. I’m really stripping myself down. I’m moving out of my house and into a studio apartment, and I’m not going to have a Blackberry or a cell phone.”
That’s because Diddy’s character, Walter Lee Younger (played by Sidney Poitier when the play was adapted to the big screen for the first time in 1961) is a frustrated man living with his wife and mother in a small apartment. He struggles with having at first too little and then too much money, thanks to his late father’s life-insurance policy payoff. He wants to use the windfall to make it big, but his mother wants him to use it to move the family out of the city.
“This is something that is so important to my people, African-Americans,” Diddy said. “It’s about the struggle, and wanting to be somebody, wanting something better for your life, and this is something that everybody can relate to all around the world.”
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When Diddy made his Broadway debut in spring 2004, the cast included Phylicia Rashad (as Lena “Mama” Younger) and Audra McDonald (who won a Tony for best featured actress for playing Ruth Younger). Both Rashad and McDonald are expected to reprise their roles in the new film version, to be directed by Kenny Leon, who also directed them onstage (see “P. Diddy In Talks For Starring Role On Broadway” ).
The time spent apart since the “Raisin” revival concluded its Broadway run, Diddy said, is only going to make each of them better — especially, he not-so-humbly noted, himself.
“I’m just getting better with time,” he explained. “I’ve been away for a long time, I shouldn’t have left you, but I’m back. You don’t have to deal with the imitations no more. There’s no more duplications. [I’m] going to make your body tingle.”
“Raisin” is scheduled to start shooting in Toronto in November.
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