Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Eddie Griffin: Undercover Brother on the European Gigolo (Q&A)

I checked out the screener for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo last week over in Century City and was surprised that it wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. The storyline of the film, due in theaters on August 12th, takes place in Amsterdam where Bigalow (Rob Schneider) has to help his homebiscuit/former pimp T.J. Hicks (Eddie Griffin) beat the rap for a string of European gigolo murders. Along the way he hooks up with a Holland hottie (Dutch newcomer Hannah Verboom) while trying to infiltrate the ranks of a secret society of the "most gifted" man-whores on the planet. "Schneider's reaching," one might say but I'll tell you, there are a couple of funny spots. Really yo, but to cover your ass, go see a matinee and take advantage of the boomin' A/C. If you liked the first one at all, then this one won't dissappoint. If you found no redeeming values in toilet jokes and psuedonyms for a man's wedding tackle (like that one) then this second installment will be the bane of your very existence -- the 97 minute running time is non-redeemable, son -- I've seen a lot worse faire coming out of this town. Personally, I've starting to get used to seeing R-Rated comedies again. Last Thursday I got a little face time with the cast (Schneider, Griffin and Verboom) at the Mondrian Hotel over on the Sunset Strip. Here's a little bit from my "colorful" conversation with the fictional Undercover Brother/ Man-Pimp Griffin...it's safe to say that he didn't mince words after he got a couple of swigs of coffee in him...

Q: What's crack-a-latin'?

Eddie Griffin: Not a whole lotta.

Q: You got the best lines in this movie. You just run away with all the funniest bits.

EG: You know if I'd seen the movie, I probably could answer that. (laughs) No, I'm going to see it Saturday.

Q: So you haven't seen the cut up version yet?

EG: Nah -- what, is it cut up?

Q: I just mean the final edited version of the film. Obviously the holding of the burnt penis still in there. Rob said you didn't fancy holding that thing.

EG: Hell, no! I'm not from that neighborhood. But after milling over it in my head, I was like, "okay, this shit is funny -- it's a burnt dick"... if that's your thang, do your thang -- just do it over there. I got kids and you don't need to freak them out with that shit.

Q: Your bios have said that you started out as a choreographer, which I'd read before and assumed you worked with dancers. But this one says that you were a choreographer for a soccer team. Which is it?

EG: It was with the indoor soccer team at Kemper arena -- that's when soccer was first hitting the states and we had pre-game shows. Before the actual soccer game would start, we had this choreographed dance number we would do for audiences to get everybody hyped up.

Q: What do you think about the return of R-Rated comedies, finally?

EG: About time, shit! I thought that the Vatican had taken over the MPAA Board. You look at films from the 70s with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, they got away with so much more shit than what's going on today. I mean, nowadays it's like "everything's got to be PG-13/ PG," you know what I'm saying? There's adults that want to see films too. Everything can't be for the kids. You see this going on in hip hop now. Hip hop is basically taking over the fucking globe - you know, can we hear a "motherfucker" every now and then? It's like "day-um!" You know, motherfuckers need to loosen up their tight asses -- and shit! (laughs)

Q: It's all butter, son. So, in John Q you were playing a more serious angle -- it was kind of funny -- but more...

EG: It was organic to his personality.

Q: So you're trying to step away from the comedy or what?

EG: I want to branch out. I definitely want to get my teeth into a nice, chunky dramatic role.

Q: So what's the word on that Sammy Davis, Jr. thing?

EG: Man, from your mouth to God's ears, we're just trying to get a proper script crackin'.

Q: But it is still in the works?

EG: Yes! That's my Oscar! (laughs) Yes, I will have one of those little statues.

Q: Anybody else attaching to it?

EG: Denzel [Washington's] interested in directing it from what I've heard and David Fineman's signed on to produce along with Sammy's wife, Altovise.

Q: So how'd you like filming in --

EG: Hated it! No, Amsterdam was cool. You know, I thought of it as [an] adult Disneyland.

Q: You want to expound on that?

EG: Yeah, most definitely. You know we flew over there and, you know, the "trees" [marijuana] are legal. I mean, you can walk over there -- they got coffee shops that don't serve coffee. And I had never been to Europe before, so imagine the culture shock that I'm going through. I walk over there and I'm like "what, you can actually roll up right here?" You know, I'm still paranoid - I'm like "no, the police is like right there." And the motherfucker didn't make a move, he was like "you want me to light that for you?" (laughs) Yeah, so you can smoke weed, then they got the red light district where prostitution's legal -- I think it's better for people, that it's legal. Because the government tests them and you know the shit's clean. [Whereas] over here if you're getting a hooker you might be taking
a chance on your life...

Q: Plus, if you have a girlfriend..

EG: What?

Q: She'd kill you for sleeping with another woman.

EG: Nah, she might get her for me...Time have changed. Your girlfriend might be like "I got one for you. Matter of fact, I got one for US!" (laughs) She might partake in the festivities herself.

Q: You were talking about this being your first time going to Europe, I was talking to Cedric the Entertainer and the cast of the Honeymooners who shot in Ireland but would shoot over to Amsterdam -- he and Mike Epps spoke about how "freaky" it was to film in Europe, did you go through the same thing?

EG: Well we shot the whole thing in Amsterdam and right after that I did another flick called Irish Jam -- we shot that in Cornwall, England to double for Ireland. That was another culture shock because this was a little fishing village and it was about a bunch of pirates. Like back in the 1700s they'd put up this fake lighthouse so these ships would come in thinking they would be pulling into port but there wasn't nothing but a bunch of rocks and shit out there. They'd wreck the ship and all these motherfuckers would come out, rob the ship and go back into town.

Q: Like Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina?

EG: Yeah, yeah. So I liked Amsterdam for the first three weeks but then, like even a kid doesn't want to stay at Disneyland all day. At some point in the day, the kid's like "let's go. We've rode everything and Mickey ain't even real."

Q: Do they know you over there?

EG: Oh, most definitely. Shit, I did a concert over there -- shot a concert film on one of my weekends over there.

Q: How much improvisation was done during the filming of Deuce: 2?

EG: None. That's my answer and I'm sticking to it. (laughs) None. It was all on the page. They put together a good script, man. When Rob first approached me and asked "do you want to do Deuce, European Gigolo -- the sequel?" You know with sequels, most sequels aren't as good as the first one. I read the script and the motherfucker was better than the first one. Cool. Let's jam.

Q: Schneider was saying that the first film blew up as a DVD, on the back end. When did you start feeling that yourself?

EG: We ran into that on Undercover Brother. Undercover Brother was released on the worst weekend that you could release any motherfucking thing. (laughs) It was the best NBA finals ever. Mike Tyson was fighting that Saturday. The Space Shuttle took off on Sunday...the Pope was inaugurated. I mean there was a bunch of [other] shit going on. I said, "I'm in the motherfuckin' movie and I ain't going to see it..."

Q: You ever go into your movies to gauge the public's reactions to your flicks?

EG: Usually, on opening weekend, we get a ghetto bus and load up a bunch of us, get drunk and shit and kick it. And go down to Magic Johnson's, then over to Universal then over here [West Hollywood] -- all of them, we just pop in. Just go around to check the reactions, like "yeah, this motherfucker's packed, they're diggin' it, allright, cool. Then we go bounce over the hill to see how the brothers are diggin' it -- they're in it to win it, cool. And then you say,"okay, now they ain't going to lie to me and tell me that this motherfucker didn't make no money because I've stopped at five of them and all of them were packed!"

Q: When speaking with Rob he mentioned that your comedic skill helped make you a well-rounded actor. What's your take on him as a performer?

EG: I think he's a modern-day Gene Wilder, you know? We've got a chemistry I haven't seen since Gene and Richard [Pryor]. We hadn't worked together in five years, since we did the first Deuce and say one (snaps fingers) the chemistry was right there. He's a little charmer. I call him a little snake charmer because he can just sit there and then he can turn that charm on -- charm the shit out of you. And the women like him because he's like a little teddy bear...like "I'm going to pick this little motherfucker up and set him over there...but he's a perfectionist. On the set he damn-near co-directed the flick...this was like his baby. He wrote the motherfucker, produced the motherfucker, starring in the motherfucker -- so he's doing the whole thing. So yeah, he's quite a professional.

Q: How was working with the long-time commercial director Mike Bigelow in his first-time feature?

EG: I mean come on, his last name was "Bigelow." They had interviewed a whole lot of people trying to get the job to direct. And the dude came in and his take on it was cool. He knew the genre, he did his homework, so...He's real cool on the set. He understands that there's different levels of comedy -- Rob's got a certain level of comedy and mine will go over here, you know what I'm saying. So he takes those moments where I get my physical shit out -- when you don't have to say shit. It might be just a look or a gesture -- and he'll take his time to capture that. Whereas a director who doesn't understand the [rhythms of the] comedy genre will say "cut!" And you're like "motherfucker I was just getting to the part." (laughs)

Q: You mentioned Daddy Rich earlier as an inspiration when you were coming up in the ranks where there any other idols you had?

EG: He was The idol. I mean after Richard it was like, come on. Game over. That's God with a microphone. "That's the motherfucker, shit!" (in Mudbone's voice) Who the fuck else was going to say what he said? Bill Cosby?...That's the reason that I'm doing what I'm doing. When I was in high school, I was a hard head. Quite the "A student" and in history class -- because I wasn't really into history -- in my head I was like when you go to fill out a job application, when the fuck are they ever going to ask you "when did George Washington chop down a cherry tree?" I was like "what the fuck do I need this in my brainspace for?" So Mrs. Watkins was my history teacher and one day she said "look Eddie, if you study I will let you get up on my desk and give today's lesson as Richard Pryor."

Q: Just like Richard's teacher did.

EG: Yeah, so I get up there. "George Washington crossed the Delaware 'cause he was high on cocaine.." (imitating Pryor)..."who else would go out in the middle of winter, in an open raft? 'Cause you know it was some niggas behind him, rowing." So that's what germanated the whole thing...

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo opens nationally on August 12th, 2005


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