Andre 3000 studied Snagglepuss for the Jimi Hendrix role
theGRIO REPORT - Jimi: All Is By My Side, is set to be released on September 26. The movie presents the most important year in Hendrix’s life, when he was discovered and welcomed to the London music scene in 1966...
Jimi Hendrix is one personality to obsess over. Rapper Andre Benjamin (formerly known as Andre 3000) knows it very well, as he worked hard on his portrayal in the new movie “Jimi: All Is By My Side.”
The rapper turned actor is now thinking of a biopic for his band Outkast: “It would be great to make an Outkast movie right now, but instead of really serious, make it a full comedy — like Kevin Hart would play Big Boi.” When asked who should play himself, he said, “We should cast somebody stupid — like Leonardo [DiCaprio].”
Present at a panel Sunday night after a preview screening of “Jimi: All Is By My Side,” at the Grammy Museum in L.A., Benjamin answered a few questions. When asked what he would like to see in a movie about Outkast, he answered: “Probably the importance of balance within the group. One of the biggest things that kills me is when people try to put Big Boi down.”
Talking to Rolling Stone about Outkast, the actor/rapper says: “The chemistry that made Outkast was the balance. And honestly, Big’s a much sharper rapper than I am. If I was going to a battle, I’d definitely bet on him instead of me.”
Jimi: All Is By My Side, is set to be released on September 26. The movie presents the most important year in Hendrix’s life, when he was discovered and welcomed to the London music scene in 1966. Benjamin prepared intensively for this role. He learned to play guitar left-handed, studied all the interviews with the artist and lost 20 pounds.
“I am not naturally a skinny man. I worked out twice a week and ate just enough calories to keep myself going. Guitar training was strenuous because I’m a right-handed guitar-player. Left-handed is completely opposite. It’s like walking backwards,” Benjamin said.
More than this, he managed to perfectly recreate the peaceful speech patterns of the guitar legend who passed away in 1970. Beginning every day with impressions of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Snagglepuss helped him with this: “He sounds Jimi-ish,”.
When asked why he decided on Benjamin for this role, this year’s Academy Award-winner for “12 Years a Slave” screenplay, John Ridley, answered: “He has the look, he’s a musician, he’s so impactful on the cultural landscape. I felt this isn’t about trying to attract the right actor for the role. This is about trying to attract the right person who embodies a certain spirit.”
“When you first start, you’re nervous. I remember the first Outkast shows I wouldn’t move at all,” Benjamin said. “It takes you a minute to get comfortable in front of people. With Jimi, the story is about these two women that were in his life that really in so many ways helped make this guy. He didn’t have a lot of confidence in his voice. He actually didn’t want to be the frontman in a band. He just wanted to be the guitarist.”
He also said Hendrix’s life story has “emotional velocity” for Ridley, who says, “We’re here today because 47 years later, we’re still inspired by his music and that time and that era. That’s the story I wanted to tell.”