SAN DIEGO — There aren't too many celebrities who you'd feel comfortable approaching in the lobby of a hotel as they try to check into their room. Then again, most celebs aren't Outkast's Andre 3000.
At the wondrous land of Comic-Con (see "Comic-Con '07: Big News On 'Iron Man,' 'Watchmen,' 'Star Trek,' 'Spidey 4' Amid Carnival Atmosphere"), you never know when an A-list star will walk right past you — and when the opportunity presented itself, the affable entertainer responded with a handshake, wide smile and spontaneous interview.
"It's my first time being out here at Comic-Con, and it is crazy," beamed the star, in town to promote the upcoming second season and soundtrack to his hit kiddie show, Cartoon Network's "Class of 3000" (see "Andre 3000's Next Collaborator: The Dude From 'SpongeBob SquarePants' "). "It's inspiring. To me, it's like you can be a kid again. ... It reminds you of all the things you used to love, before you had to put on a suit and go to a corporate job. It's like dream land or fantasy land — and I dig that."
Keeping with the inner-child theme, Andre greeted thousands of costumed fans and gave them the latest scoop on his 'toon, in which he performs songs via his character Sunny Bridges. "Kids and parents started to ask, 'Where do [you] get these songs?' " he said. (Some of the fun-loving grooves have been bundled as the recently released "Class of 3000" soundtrack.) "There's 'Life Without Music,' which is a great classical piece ... 'Banana Zoo' is a favorite among people. It's a jam. It's about a gorilla who plays the drums then meets up with the kids, and they jam in the zoo."
Since the show came on the air, Andre has kept his promise of writing a brand-new song for every episode. The process has allowed him to stretch some very different muscles, he said, than when he works on an Outkast track. "Funny enough, I approach this music where I don't say, 'This is kids' music,' " he said of the process. "I want to make serious music but make the subject matter where kids can understand it. [That way] kids and adults get into it. ... I want to introduce all styles of music [to kids], so we get into jazz, and we get into classical, blues, funk, rock, calypso, whatever. ... It's not these 'teensy-weensy' kiddie songs."
Despite all that work, however, Andre has still found time to launch the second wave of a film career that began with critically lauded performances in "Four Brothers" and "Be Cool." Up next is "The Battle in Seattle," a drama about the World Trade Organization starring Woody Harrelson and Charlize Theron, and "Semi-Pro," a basketball movie with Will Ferrell that's due at the top of the year. "I am playing a 1970s basketball star showoff on the team, and we are trying to make it to the NBA. It's hilarious."
And then comes the role that could catapult Andre into Jamie Foxx territory — a high-profile biopic named "Sammy and Kim" that casts him as the legendary Sammy Davis Jr. (see "Outkast LP 'Could Be Two Years' Off As Andre 3000, Big Boi Put Solo Work First").
"Well, actually, I just got the script," Andre said of the project, which is competing with two other films to be the first Davis biopic in theaters. "I am checking it out now, and we will see where it goes from there."
Explaining that his film is different from its competitors (including the one that will star "Hairspray" breakout actor Elijah Kelly — see " 'Hairspray' Actor Elijah Kelley To Star In Sammy Davis Jr. Biopic"), Andre's movie will chronicle the love and hatred that formed a powder-keg combination during one of pop culture's first interracial romances.
"It's about Sammy and [actress] Kim [Novak]," Andre beamed. "It happens in 24 hours, and I am pretty excited about it."
And while he's at Comic-Con, Andre was also excited about one more thing. "Pirates!" he enthused. "Pirates, pirates, pirates ... I love ['Pirates of the Caribbean'], but serious pirates too. You know, Blackbeard, and the 1700 and 1800s, that type of thing."
With that in mind, he said he couldn't wait to get down on the convention floor, buy some toys and check out the 40-foot-long Black Pearl replica. "I didn't get a chance to walk on the floor, but there was this big pirate ship, and when I was coming in from the airport I saw this 1800s ship in the water," he said after spotting the Star of India, a San Diego landmark that dates back to 1863. "I was like ,'Wow, that's cool!' And then I get here, and they say that they have a ship [on the floor]. Now, I am bombarded by ships — and I love it."
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