Tip “T.I.” Harris, an award-winning rap artist and break-out actor, gave an exclusive AT&T Conference Call to colleges around the country, including Florida A&M. Here’s what he had to say about his role in newly-released film “Takers,” and his future as an actor and entertainer.
Q: As a musician and being a rapper and then trying to make the transition to acting, I feel like it’s similar because you’re using your words in both instances to express yourself but was it an easy transition for you?
A : “Well I do believe myself that the whole process of the two that are completely different, I respectfully disagree given the fact that music is all of your thoughts, your opinions, your views, and based on your principles. The music that you make, the words that you are speaking come out of your mind, from your heart about your situation.
Whereas on film, your personal views take a back seat for the views of the story. The views of the story tell the view of the writer or the director, so you’re just the instrument. As a musician, you play instruments, and a movie, as an actor, you are an instrument.
The … is-the transition-I feel like it’s as easy as you allow it to be. If you make it difficult, it will be difficult, but as long as you’ve got a real passion for it, you love what you’re doing, and you love the stories that you are a part of telling, then I think that’s significant. It’s a piece of cake.”
Q: What’s the most memorable moment that you had while filming Takers?
A: “The whole experience as a whole, it was phenomenal. Just the camaraderie of the guys and how we all- It was really just like showing up and hanging out, man. We just happened to shoot a movie in the process. Everybody got along well. Everybody added a different swag to the screen, and it was just an outstanding experience on all levels.
I could tell you my least favorite moment was when they had me in that cop suit. That was hot and tight and it itched. It seemed like the day went on forever. It was one of the hottest days in California history. It had to be. Yes, so that was my least favorite day.”
Will Packer, a FAMU Alumnus and Producer of Hollywood blockbusters such as Stomp the Yard and This Christmas, returned to FAMU’s campus to talk to students about his upcoming film, Takers, and the journey he has taken since the world premiere of his first film, Chocolate City.
What is it about Takers that sets it apart from other Hollywood heist movies?
“Takers is a heist movie, so it has a lot of the conventions of the genre. It’s got a lot of the elements that you would see in great heist films like Ocean’s Eleven or Italian Job. It’s different though in that the cast makes it unique; the cast is a lot younger and hipper in this movie. The way the guys’ dress, the way they talk, the swagger they have is different than some of the Hollywood heist movies.”
“The studio wanted this movie to appeal to the younger demographic. The first thing I said was that we have to make this the coolest, slickest, hippest heist movie of the year. Nobody can be cooler than us. These guys have got to be wearing suits and nice shoes and driving nice cars. We need good-looking people. Action is typically a young male genre, but I knew that if we put a bunch of good-looking guys in this cast, that we would open our audience up and women, who are normally not big action goers, would come and respond based on having the guys in there.”
Q: Was there a message that you wanted moviegoers to take behind the trials the main characters endure throughout the movie and the way it ends?
A: “Takers isn’t a message film and I don’t think all films have to be; I believe in entertainment for entertainment’s sake. However, I do want moviegoers to feel something when they leave the theater. I don’t ever want anyone to leave a Will Packer film feeling as if they wasted and hour and a half of their life. There is an underlying theme of family there, of brotherhood, of greed and trust. In terms of the message, I think that’s up to the individual movie-goer’s perception.”
Montrel Miller is a FAMU Alumnus, Class of 2007, with a degree in agriculture and economics minor and a professional actor. He was also a member of the Beta Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. After being laid off from his position in his field, Miller began pursuing his dream of being a professional actor, which led to his role in a national trailer for summer action film “Takers.” See what this FAMU alum has to say about his journey to stardom.
Q: What actors do you look up to in Hollywood? Who is your biggest inspiration?
A: “Inspiration for me would have to be Will Smith. The reason is because the way he took the game. He started off with comedy and let that get him through the door. Then he moved to drama…he’s such a well-rounded actor and probably the hardest working actor in Hollywood.
Also, Martin [Lawrence] is the greatest comedic actor in my opinion. I love Martin, he doesn’t try too hard; he’s just a natural. I also like Pooch Hall from The Game. I got a chance to meet him and he’s a really cool guy and a really good actor. I think he has a range and definitely going be someone to look at in the film industry.”
Q: How did you first get started in acting?
A: “When I graduated I was still in Tallahassee working for the department of correction in accounting. The ‘bruhs’ called me up and were doing a step show where they needed someone to play P. Diddy.”
I got a lot of good feedback from it with people asking me if I did acting and it kind of sparked in my head. I always wanted to do acting but I was scared of it. When the opportunity presented itself, I took advantage of it and it opened up some opportunities for me. I’ve never looked back since.”
To view the national trailer featuring Miller, visit www.thefamuanonline.com Also, for more videos, comedy shorts, dramatic skits and famous scenes in film and television interpreted by Miller, visit his blog at www.montrelsworld.com.