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Idlewild in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Idlewild

André Benjamin • Antwan A Patton • Paula Patton • Terrence Howard
DIRECTOR: Bryan Barber

Shy Percival (André Benjamin) comes out of his shell… THE CONCEPT:
The mega group Outkast stars in this musical/fantasy/drama set against the backdrop of a ‘30s Southern nightclub. Rooster (Patton) is a showy headliner and manager at the Prohibition-era speakeasy ‘Church.’ His childhood friend Percival (Benjamin) is a shy piano player at the club, where they perform a mixture of contemporary hip-hop, classic blues and swing music.

U.S. RELEASE: August 25 2006, Nationwide • Rated: R


“I wanted this musical to transcend color lines, even though it’s predominantly all African American characters. The fusion was important to transport the audience into the 1930s, especially with this new MTV reality TV generation. Expecting them to sit comfortably with Cab Calloway would have been a little bit tough, because it’s not something they’re used to. I wanted contemporary artists performing contemporary songs to really ground people in that certain reality. And what I was trying to say by that was if you were actually living in the 1930s, at that time Cab Calloway would have been the hottest star – he would have been OutKast.”

“I think style-wise, setting it in the ‘30s will take the audience to a whole other world. As far as the music, we knew that it was [set in the] 1930’s, so we kept in mind when we were writing and producing, that this was a period piece. But, at the same time, we’re OutKast and we’ve got a responsibility to live up to our fans, so we had to make sure that it was modern as well.”

“This was my first film. The first day we shot I was so nervous. Ben Vereen [who plays Percival’s father] was like a mentor the whole time. He already had me psyched up a little bit, because before Terrence [Howard] got there he was like, ‘This guy’s going to come in here, he’s a veteran actor, he’s going to already be in character, he’s not going to like you. Don’t play into it. You have to go toe-to-toe with him.’ So I turned my nervousness into the anger that I needed for the scene, and after we shot a couple of takes, Terrence was like, ‘Brother, the way you’re staring at me, you had me shook up, for real.’ And, for him to say that to me, I was like, ‘Okay, I know how to do it now.’ He made me feel comfortable, and after that it was all good.”

“Music is full control. You produce, you write, it’s your total baby, from start to finish. On a film, you’re part of a collective. There are some 200+ people on a set. You’re a part of a family. When you’re an entertainer you do stuff like a normal person, but you’re not a normal person because you’ve got people looking at you all the time and you’ve got people trying to pry into your life. So when you’re on screen, you get to play a civilian. You get to play a normal person, which is cool.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Universal Pictures
Feature © 2006 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #674, September 2006 cover

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