As a rapper coming from the world of hip-hop, it’s often hard to be taken seriously as an actor when you start getting movies roles, but for Chris Bridges, known mainly by his stagename “Ludacris,” it helped that his second film role was in Paul Haggis’ Oscar-winning Crash as well as Craig Brewer’s critically-lauded drama Hustle & Flow, opposite Terrence Howard.
This coming weekend, Bridges can be seen opposite Mark Wahlberg playing Internal Affairs agent Jim Bravura in John Moore’s adaptation of the video game Max Payne and he’ll appear in Neveldine & Taylor’s action-thriller Game sometime next year, but when ComingSoon.net had a chance to talk to him, it was for Guy Ritchie’s latest crime comedy RocknRolla, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.
In the movie, Bridges is paired with Jeremy Piven as the managers of rocker Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), a reclusive junkie whose daddy issues with his stepfather, London mob boss Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson), gets his managers into trouble with a band of thieves. It’s very different from Bridges’ previous roles, and though we only had about ten minutes to talk to him, we did try to cover as much ground as possible, including his upcoming record “Theater of the Mind.”
ComingSoon.net: The shoe’s sort of on the other foot in this movie because you’re playing a manager this time. Did you incorporate anything you’ve learned from your own managers into the role?
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges: Yeah, man, I mean just being on that side of it, yeah I definitely talked to my manager about stuff and kind of got an idea of just putting myself in the sense of a manager and taking myself out of an artist’s shoes. That’s what it was and not only hip-hop, but also rock ‘n’ roll, and that’s a totally different spectrum, but I think the principles of being a manager of course are the same. It was really just about being business-minded and being all the way focused and 100% knowing that it’s about me getting the money and being on point. So yeah, I kind of did a little studying.
CS: Do you feel that all managers are like that?
Bridges: The way I looked at it, I thought, yeah, that’s the way a manager should be. He should be very professional, he should be very aggressive but respectful at the same time, to some degree, and definitely just very forward, a forward type person.
CS: Who approached you about playing the part? Was it Joel (Silver, the film’s producer) or Guy?
Bridges: Actually, Guy put the call in. I didn’t even have to try out for it, so I was very blessed in that.
CS: Did you know him beforehand or had you met him before?
Bridges: I had never met him. I guess he said that he liked my work and that he wanted me to play one of the characters, and I was down. I was already down.
CS: Any idea why he picked this particular character for you?
Bridges: You know what? He told me he was inspired by a music video, where he saw two managers backstage or something like that. You’d have to ask him, but it was something he was inspired by, and he automatically thought of me and that’s why he told me to be in it. Of course, I was always a fan of Guy Ritchie’s since “Lock, Stock” and of course “Snatch” and it was out of the blue that I got the call and I was just like man, that’s pretty ironic because I’m that much of a fan of his, and then I find out that he’s a big fan of mine.
CS: And you also got to be with Jeremy Piven in every scene of the movie, which must have been awesome even when the camera stopped rolling.
CS: But you two kind of play the more serious roles than at least he’s done before. What was it like having to be with Jeremy when he wasn’t playing a comedic role?
Bridges: It was pretty weird, and of course London, most of the year, it’s kind of dark and gloomy, so it was kind of hard, but Jeremy and I hung out a lot and we got to know each other, which made our chemistry on film a lot easier and a lot better. But yeah, we were kind of the outcasts around there. It definitely felt like we were outcasts.
CS: At least you got to hold the gun and do a bit of shooting, since you’d expect that in a Guy Ritchie movie.
Bridges: Right, yeah, yeah, we didn’t really get to do much. We just got to play our roles, but we’ve been hearing a rumor of Part 2, so hopefully we can be involved. That’d be cool.
CS: I’m actually a big fan of your performances in “Crash” and “Hustle & Flow” and at Comic-Con, Mark Wahlberg said some really nice things about you at the panel there for “Max Payne.” What originally started your aspirations to get into acting more? You’ve been doing very well in the rap world…
Bridges: Man, you know once I started doing it, I kind of surprised myself because I didn’t even know I had the talent, and it was just something I found really therapeutic in a sense. I loved doing it, and I want to continue doing it more, because how I surprise myself, I’m kind of trying to find out what my limitations are.
CS: I’m not sure what other actors hope for in terms of their careers and their endgame, whether it’s getting awards, but are you hoping to get to that point as an actor?
Bridges: I would love to win an Oscar one day, absolutely.
CS: I was curious because Mark is a great example. He started in the music world and it took him a long time to be taken seriously as an actor. At least when you started acting, you were in really good movies. If you had to put the music aside for a few years to really focus on the acting, would that be something you’d want to do?
Bridges: I think over the next five years or so… I still have so much music in me, and I kind of balance the two right now, but you know, I’m not trying to be rappin’ when I’m 40 years old. I can definitely see myself transitioning more into acting.
CS: Are Run-DMC the oldest rappers right now?
Bridges: They still do shows here and there, but I don’t think they’re pursuing it as far as coming out with more and more albums every time.
CS: But you’re still busy with the music, and you even have an album coming out next month even. Is this one where you have a lot of different styles on it? Did I hear you were working with Good Charlotte?
Bridges: “Theater of the Mind” is the name of the album, but Good Charlotte aren’t on it. I did work with them, it’s just not going to be on this particular album. It’s more like every song is a movie, so there’s a lot of conceptual stuff, so every song is an event, so instead of having features, I have co-stars, so all songs are real theatrical with the beats, just trying to have the imagination flying. There’s storytelling stuff and it kind of just plays out like a movie, that’s how it is.
CS: So you’ve been inspired by making movies to do more cinematic stuff in your videos, too?
Bridges: Absolutely, yeah exactly. All the stuff intertwined, because you know, music’s all about what place you’re at at the time, and right now, since I’m involved in so much film stuff, I kind of incorporated that into my music.
CS: Have you been able to get some of the people you work with in movies to do some videos for the album?
Bridges: I do. I have Spike Lee talkin’ on some stuff, I have a song with Criss Angel talkin’ on it, I have a song with Floyd Merriweather and he’s sayin’ some stuff, so it’s incorporating movie stuff into the songs. Trust me, it’s very, very interesting creative stuff.
CS: As far as the movie stuff, both “Max Payne” and “Game” are more action-type movies for you. Are you trying to go more into that direction and are you involved in the action in either of those movies?
Bridges: I’m not really… in my roles, I’m not involved in much of the action, but you know what? I take that back. In “The Game,” I’m not really involved in much of the action, because I’m one of the guys trying to stop it, but in “Max Payne,” I’m an Internal Affairs agent, I get my hands dirty a couple’a times, but I leave most of the work up to the foot soldiers. You know, the Internal Affairs agent is only supposed to get involved when he’s really supposed to, but there are a couple action things that I have going on.
CS: How close is that to the video game? The footage at Comic-Con looked amazing.
Bridges: It’s loosely based off the video game, but it takes the storyline and the characters to a whole ‘nother height, because Jim Bravura in the video game is like a 40 or 50-year-old white man, something like that, and so that’s what I’m sayin’, they’re taking some of the characters and expanding them.
CS: Do you have any other movies you might start working on or have you really been focusing on getting the album done and then promoting that?
Bridges: Just right now, I’m just thinking about the album.
CS: I talked to a lot of filmmakers who worked with rappers and also those who made the transition, and I’m not sure many people realize how much about being a musician is about performing whether it’s on stage, but as far as playing different characters, is there anything you’d like to do that’s really different?
Bridges: I do, that’s why I say I want to test the limits of what I can do acting-wise. I really don’t know the character until I see. It’s kind of hard for me to say exactly what I would want to do. I’m kind of one of those guys that knows when I see it what I would want to do.
CS: Are there any other filmmakers or actors you’ve admired that you’d like to work with?
Bridges: Yeah, definitely Michael Bay. I would love to work with Michael Bay. Joel Silver was on my list and I’m able to work with him. George Lucas, maybe? Those are to name a few.
CS: Lucas doesn’t do many movies unless you want to do an animated movie with him.
Bridges: Absolutely. As far as actors, definitely like a Robert De Niro or Al Pacino and of course Denzel, I’d love to work with those guys.
At this point, our conversation kind of devolved into us talking about various movies playing at the Toronto International Film Festival including Spike Lee’s movie, Appaloosa, and the like. Either way, Chris proved to be a very cool guy and hopefully we’ll get another chance to talk to him in the future.
In the meantime, you can see him in Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla, which is now playing in select cities and scheduled to open wider on October 31; he also appears in Max Payne opening this Friday, October 17, and his new album as Ludacris, “Theater of the MInd,” is scheduled to drop on November 25; you can pre-order that on Amazon.