Starsky & Hutch, played by Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, are hitting the big screen and Snoop Dogg is along for the ride. He plays the savvy street informant Huggy Bear in the Todd Phillips action comedy, opening March 5. The film explores the origins of the charismatic crime-fighting duo David Starsky and Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson when these undercover Bay City detectives are partnered for their very first assignment. ComingSoon.net recently got a chance to sit down with the platinum-selling rapper to chat about the role.
Did you know of Huggy Bear before you did the film?
Yeah, I was a fan of the TV show as a kid. I watched it a lot. I used to run home from school to check it out. And I liked Huggy Bear. He was sharp, he was a cool dude.
Is that a weird thing to admit, that you were a fan of the show?
Nah, it ain’t weird, I was a kid of the 70s, you know. ‘Starsky & Hutch,’ ‘What’s Happening,’ ‘Good Times,’ ‘The Jeffersons,’ you know, TV shows like that, we had to watch them.
What is it about Huggy Bear that he can put on those crazy clothes today and not look as crazy as Starsky & Hutch?
Because Todd allowed me the ability to make Huggy Bear what I thought he should look like, and not just have a 70s outfit, but a 70s outfit with tale bit of flair to it, you know, with my hair, my fingernails and jewelry, coats, you know, he allowed me to put some Snoop Dogg in Huggy.
Did some of those clothes come from your own closet?
I don’t think it came from my closet. I think it came from my mental and me just knowing what looked cool. I had Bishop Magic Juan as a consultant, working with the lady. The wardrobe lady was very fly, I forgot her name. She was off the hook because she had pictures of what she wanted Huggy Bear to look like that were drawn out. I was like okay. I was like, ‘That’s fly,’ but Bishop was like, ‘Nah, but we need to add this.’ Then I added, ‘But my hair ain’t gonna look like that, it’s gonna look like this.’ Once we all got together, it came together and I started seeing it. It looked real sharp.
After the cameo in “Old School,” was it easy to work with Todd Phillips again? Did you know right away that you wanted to play that role?
Oh yeah. I mean once I heard about the movie, like maybe two years ago, my manager at the time, Larry Canard, he had brought it to my attention. He was like, ‘Man, you gotta get this role.’ I was like, ‘That’s me.’ I ain’t even trippin’. Can’t nobody else play that. He said a couple of other names, I was like, ‘Pssht, he can’t do it. He can’t do it. He definitely can’t do it.’ So I just waited for it all to happen and it all fell in place.
Was it cool when the real Starsky & Hutch came to the set?
Yeah, that was cool. I dig them too, they were sharp. It was real cool when they came. The original Starsky & Hutch. I got to take pictures with them and everything.
Did you speak to the original Huggy Bear, Antonio Vargas? Was he in your “Doggy Dogg World” video?
Yeah, he was in the ‘Doggy Dogg World’ video, but I never talked to him about playing Huggy Bear. I wanted to impress him and surprise him. You feel me? I wanted him to come see it and be like, ‘That’s me.’
How come you didn’t do a song for the soundtrack?
I wanted to do music, but they didn’t want any new music. They just wanted music from the 70s. That’s what they wanted. But you know I had a song ready to go. Ready to go at all times. I keep a hit record ready to go.
When we talk to people, they’re often surprised at how professional you are. Do people have a different expectation of you?
Yeah, I’m a rapper. You know, so being a rapper we always late, we don’t give a f**k. We just like that, you know what I’m sayin? That’s our mentality, but we’re professional at the same time. When it calls for us to be rappers, we rappers. When it calls for us to be actors, we know how to switch the reel, go in the phone booth and become professional and turn into the actor.
But you can’t really be flighty or inconsistent to be as busy as you are.
No, that’s the ones who tend to excel. The ones who don’t excel, they probably do come late and don’t do what they supposed to do. The ones who at the top of their game, you have no room for that, or the next man will get your opportunity.
Has rapper-turned-actor replaced the “model-turned-actor” stigma to overcome? It goes in the door before you come into the room.
Yeah, because the roles that the average rapper gets is so predictable in the beginning stages. You never see a new rapper coming into a movie role where’s he’s playing an orthodontist or a top-notch lawyer. He’s always gonna come in with a gun in his hand, talkin’ sh*t and getting killed. That’s the intro for the rapper. Until he can step out of it and do some comedy or do something that’s far-fetched from your imagination where you didn’t feel he could do it, then he gets respected as an actor. But it’s a long hard role, because even actors go through bumps and bruises and they’re professional at what they’re doing and that’s all they do, so I respect that. Me being a musician and a rapper, for an athlete to step into the rap world, he has a lot to prove. I don’t care if he can score 100 points and do this and do that. You steppin’ in our game so you got to step your game up. We go hard on that. So it’s like we gotta expect the same thing on the movie side.
What roles would you stay away from?
I won’t wear no dress, I won’t play no woman in no movie.
Do you want to focus more on your acting career now or music career?
Both. My horoscope sign is a Libra. That means I’m balanced so I can do them both. It’s a juggling act.
But when you go out on tour, it’s going to put the acting career on hold.
On pause, yeah. So it’s like you really have to make a decision on what matters most. Me personally, I don’t have to make another record ever again. I can continue to tour until I’m finished with it, because that’s the show that I bring, and that’s the way that me and my peoples get down. When I leave the stage, you wanna see me again because I put my all into a show. I put my all into everything that I do. So I don’t have to make another record, but I have a lot to prove on the acting side. But every good movie needs a good soundtrack. Why not have the Dogg do the soundtrack too? So I’ll be all right.
Have you been in a situation yet where you wanted a role but the casting directors couldn’t see you for it due to your rap persona?
Yeah, definitely. That happened before when they made me go do reads. That’s why I don’t do reads anymore unless it’s a boss. It’s gotta be a big name director with some heavy actors attached to it. I don’t do reads no more because I found myself up against the ropes because they didn’t give me the room to be me. I know if you give me the role now, I’m really going to go overboard, get my mind right and get this mother-f**kin’ character down pat. But if you got me reading this line and that line and make your evaluation on that, you can’t make no evaluation of me off two or three lines.
Did comedy come easy for you because of your rap style, or is it just being a funny guy is enough.
As a kid I was a class clown. More people thought I would be a comedian than I would be a rapper, because I used to always bag on people. That’s what we call when you talk about somebody, we bag on them. I never really had sh*t in life so it was easy for me to talk about somebody because I ain’t never had nothing. So basically I would reflect on what I didn’t have and put him or her or whoever I was talking about in that reference. So the comedy side is easier than the dramatic side.
You have such an ease with yourself, which attracts people to you. Was there ever a point where the industry tried to push you in a certain direction and you had to find yourself again?
Yeah, because a lot of bad roles were coming my way and I had spoke to Ice Cube and he had told me some good sh*t. He was like man, you gotta make better decisions. You can’t just take every role that’s given to you. You gotta take the roles that best set up your next move. I was caught up with just happy to be in a movie. There’s a hundred rappers in the movie? I don’t give a f**k, I’m in the movie with them, just throwing myself out there and not really getting the value of myself and not really learning how to become the actor that I wanted to be. But you gotta go through a lot of different things in order to find out who you are. And by me going through those roles and those bad movies and things that I feel bad that I’ve done but I done them so I live with it, now I understand the game and I take my time and I’m more precise with what I do.
How does fame mess up understanding who you are?
A lot of times with fame, if you look at the fame, it can bewilder you. It can throw you off. If you start to look at who you are, who people think you are, that’s bad. If you just continue to be who you are, that’s cool. I don’t never have time to look at Snoop Dogg. I can’t watch all the videos I been in and the movies I been in, and the commercials. I’m always on some other sh*t. I’m always on my next move. If you tell me, ‘Man, you was great in that.’ Great in what? And I’m so serious about it because I’m always poppin’ and I’m trying to get this, I’m doing that. Aw, they doing this? I wanna be in this. I reach for it. If I want it, I’m not afraid. If it’s a movie that I hear that they doing and I like this actress, and I know she gonna need a love interest, I’m like you know what, I want that. I know they don’t think I can play it. She’ll probably say, ‘Hell nah.’ Tell them I want it. Give me action at it.
Seems like stars are doing more and more things to get attention-Britney and Madonna kissing, Janet Jackson’s boob. You’re still cool and more famous for coaching your kid’s team. What do you think about these publicity stunts?
You have to be you. If kissing another girl is you, do you. If pulling your t*tt**s out is you, do you. You got to be you. I used to be wild and crazy like that, but now I’m more into what I’m into right now and I’m thankful that people appreciate me for being who I am and not expecting me to jump overboard and doing something off the wall. Because if I’m ready to go off the wall, I go off the wall. Right now I don’t feel like going off the wall.
Do you feel it’s important to be a role model?
Yeah, that’s definitely a reason why I’m out there coaching football, for one. The 33 kids that I get on my football team are kids that could’ve been involved with gangs, drugs. By them taking up football and getting coached by me and learning and living and listening to the instructions that I’m giving them, they’re definitely gonna see a lot to be inspired by because at the same time I’m coaching them, they go home and get a chance to see me on TV playing great characters and doing positive things. They get to go to the theaters and see me in movies, then they know that, ‘Wow, this is our coach but he’s so personal and so right here with us, he came from the same neighborhood we from. If he can do it, we can do it.’
On stage you said you have to do you, but you have the power to mold young people. Do you get upset when the public takes you to task for just being yourself?
That’s one thing about kids. They love Snoop Dogg. They don’t love this Snoop Dogg, when he’s acting They love Snoop Dogg. All of me. It’s nothing to prove or nothing to say. I don’t even understand why they do Sometimes I talk to kids and I be trying to figure out, ‘Why they so into me when I don’t make songs that say ‘A, B, C, D”-I don’t do stuff like that. I do real, and they love it. So it’s like, if the kids is cool with it, then I’m cool with it.
At what point did you become comfortable in front of the camera?
I was shy. I was playing the background of Dr. Dre. I was learning. I didn’t really want to do the wrong things or say the wrong things, so I shied away from the camera. I wasn’t friends with the camera. I didn’t understand him. But we grown to love each other over the years.
Was there a specific turning point when you became more comfortable?
Just seeing myself. Watching myself back on TV and seeing me hold microphones and [imitates] ‘YouknowwhatI’msayin’,’ you know, and doing all that stupid sh*t. Just watching myself and saying, ‘Man, that ain’t cool. Being high on TV, and [imitates] ‘Yeah man, you know,’ and I’m just looking at myself saying, ‘Man, that is some ridiculous sh*t, you know what I’m sayin?’ And then wanting to better myself. If I want to communicate, I need to look at you while I’m talking to you.
Do you still have to overcome shyness?
When I’m around certain people. When I’m around certain actors or actresses I get shy. If it’s somebody that I really like, I get real shy, especially if it’s a beautiful actress. If I really like her, I get shy.
How do you deal with fan encounters?
Yeah, that’s real talk. Yesterday I met a guy from Africa. When he met me, it’s like he grabbed my hands and bowed his head and got on his knees and was just doing all of this, and I’m like-all my homies, they was like laughing. But I was with him. I felt him. You know, he was saluting a king, you dig? In his world, I’m a king. It made my homies trip out because they not living my life, they don’t understand that. But to me, it made me really appreciate what I do and how I do it because this guy is way in Africa, and he was like, ‘You mean the world to us over there.’
When you do a movie like “Soul Plane,” is it fun to just let it go and have fun?
Yeah, just be me. Just go out there and have fun.
Who do you play?
I’m Captain Mack, I’m the pilot. First black airline, it’s called NWA.