Andre 3000 is learning a new meaning of the phrase "ice cold" as he shoots the movie "Four Brothers" in Toronto.
"What you think is cold is pretty warm for us," he said. "We were out shooting on a lake — a frozen lake. Imagine a whole set on top of a frozen lake. You feel like you could just fall through the lake at any time. You hear the cracklin' and rumblin' and it's so cold that when the wind hits your skin, it's over. I'm just cursin'. But you gotta get through it."
"Four Brothers," directed by John Singleton ("Boyz N the Hood," "Shaft"), is set in Detroit, where Andre Benjamin (when his acting hat is on) plays Jeremiah, a construction worker with his three unexpected, titular siblings. Unexpected in that two of them are Mark Wahlberg and Garrett Hedlund ("Troy," "Friday Night Lights") — i.e. white. The family tree is rounded out by Tyrese (see "Andre 3000, Mark Wahlberg And Tyrese As Brothers? Only In Hollywood ...").
"We were actually adopted when we were very small," Dre explained. "Our mom, she was a neighborhood helpful person and saw that these kids needed help. We were bad children and she took us in and we all live under the same roof."
In the movie, the four brothers come together to avenge their mother's death. As for off set, it's a little more laid-back. "We're like real brothers," Andre said. "We don't stay off each other. It's like true high school."
And his best teacher has been Singleton. Dre said the biggest lesson he's learned is going with his instinct. "In the script, there's a diagram of how this movie's supposed to go. We go by the script for sure, but [Singleton] gives you a chance to open up and try [new] things. I can tell what's most important to him is the emotion of the movie," Andre said. "He's not a director that's all about style and quick cuts. There's nothing wrong if that's somebody's style, but he's that old-school type of director."
Dre has also learned to be protective of his craft and doesn't like to cross his mediums. As a result, he wouldn't allow MTV to film him in character. "Right now I'm Andre Benjamin sitting here talking to you, and when I get in front of the camera, I want to be Jeremiah. I juggle careers, so I'm still that dude who makes music. When I'm sitting here talking to you, I just want to [talk] about my career," Andre explained. "Jeremiah doesn't have a career, he's from Detroit, he's a construction worker."
No disrespect to Jeremiah, of course. Andre 3000 has always had a natural inclination to perform and enjoys the work of embodying other characters, starting from when he was young. "Growing up, I was in the little drummer troupes, doing stage plays and stuff like that. [After] Big Boi and I did a couple of videos, producers would call me and say, 'Why don't you come out to L.A. and try out for this movie? We think you'd be great.' I was like, 'OK, I'll try it,' " Dre recalled. "I started getting more and more of those calls, so I actually moved out to California for a year and a half. I was just grindin', taking acting classes, actors workshops, and meeting all kinds of directors, agents and studios.
"Once I started to get jobs, it was a true acting bug, and once you get it, it's a challenge. You challenge yourself to see if you can get into character, to see if you can stay in character, see if you can make people believe a certain thing," Dre said. "But I've been playing characters all my life. You know the history of Outkast. It's just [that] Jeremiah's a new one."
Besides the recently released "Be Cool," the next Andre Benjamin project to hit screens will be the currently untitled HBO movie formerly known as "My Life in Idlewild," a musical set in the 1930s co-starring Dre's Outkast counterpart Big Boi (see "Outkast's Manager Says Movie, LP Will Be Their 'Purple Rain' "). "It's pretty much life," Andre said, "it's a love story, it's drama, it's gangsta sh-- goin' on, action for sure." But Dre doesn't know any more about it than you do. "I never watch playback. I never watch what I've done till it's complete, so when you see it, that's when I see it," he said.
Dre and Big Boi did double duty for the project because all the music from the film will be released as the next Outkast album. After that, the duo will put out a studio record. He wouldn't give up any more information on it, but he did offer a message to the rumor mill: "And, no, we haven't broken up. Nothing like that. All that kind of talk can be crushed."
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