It's been a life-changing year for hip-hop musician and Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am. His songs Yes We Can and It's a New Day became Internet sensations and anthems for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, his group the Black Eyed Peas recorded a new album The E.N.D. (out June 9), and he got his first film role, as teleporter John Wraith in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Making the movie was so much fun, "it’s like they took me to freakin’ Mars. It showed me a whole new world," says Will.i.am (pictured at left with Wolverine star Hugh Jackman), a longtime fan of the X-Men comic books. Our Brian Truitt recently talked with the fledgling actor as he was finishing up the new Peas album. Click read more for his thoughts on Wolverine, his changing musical influences and what summer movies he wants to see.
Photo by James Fisher
On working with veterans like Liev Schreiber as a new actor: "Liev is really nice and he helped me out a lot. Once I got comfortable, everything was golden and cool. Those guys are mad good actors. This being my first time looking at it and watching it, I’m proud of what I did. You never know what it’s going to look like and you’re self-conscious. I’m a perfectionist – I produce and I write and direct as well, directing videos, directing people in the studio, Michael Jackson and all the people that I work with, so I know how to pull the best out of people. And I know what it takes to make a person feel comfortable to give their 100 percent."
On the first time he saw himself on film: "I was happy with what I saw. I tried to see my diction from the dailies and the playback and just deliver my part and hit my marks so it was believable. You’re really relying on and trusting the director. In my world, I am the director. I’m the director, the writer, the composer. The key was really letting go. And I’m happy with the performance. There were a couple scenes in the movie I wasn’t happy with and fortunately they cut those out, which was cool."
On bridging his music and movie worlds: "I got so inspired. Just going back to my world, it’s opened up my imagination so much. Like, 'Wow, you mean I can do this AND do that?' It took my little world of music and made it look tiny and insignificant, just as far as the intricacy. It just made me realize what I could do in film if I participated in the writing and the creation from conception. Like I could dream up stuff. I’m not the best musician, but it’s my imagination that allows me to excel. Using technology and the tools that I have in front of me, I can execute what’s in my head. I want to write and direct, and by writing and directing, I think I will be a better actor in my own [stuff]."
On the new Black Eyed Peas album: It’s different than all the Black Eyed Pea records we’ve ever done. I’m really and truly excited. Instead of the guitar being an important element, the code writers are just as important. In this day and age with technology and iPods and applications and websites, it’s not just CD players and vinyl and radio. We’re living in a five-dimensional world where you can do anything. A song is not a song anymore when you have a code writer. It’s become part of the process. I’m excited for people to see the things that I’ve been dreaming up on how to experience music.
On his new sonic influence: When I was shooting Wolverine in Australia, I was going to all these electro clubs and I met this group called the Cookers. They blew my mind away: the sounds they were coming up with, the tools they were doing them with and how the kids were reacting to it. It felt like punk rock but it wasn’t – it had the energy of Public Enemy but it wasn’t. I was blown away, so when I came back to America after Wolverine, they were like, 'How was it?' And I was like, 'Yee-uh! Let me play you something!' 'So how was Wolverine?' 'Dude, there was this club I went to…' "
On watching Wolverine in the theater: I want to see it when it comes out May 1. I love movies. It’s a social thing for me. I like looking at a movie and then talking to my friends about it: 'So what did you think about this part?' I hate when I’m excited about something and I go talk to my friends and they’re like, 'Shut up, don’t tell me nothing!' That’s the only bummer, because I know it’s going to be a big movie of the summer and probably will be the best movie of the summer, in my opinion. And not because I’m in it.
On the summer movies he wants to see, other than Wolverine: G.I. Joe, that’s gonna be cool but it’s gonna be for kids and junk. Transformers? I hope they get the effects right so I’m not dizzy when I look at it. A lot of times when it’s so CG and stuff, I get dizzy. I’m really looking forward to Angels & Demons and Harry Potter.