http://www.hollywood.com/general/four-brothers-interviews-garrett-hedlund-and-andre-benjamin-57168200/

You shot in Toronto, which subs for the movie’s setting, Detroit, and it looked like you didn’t have to do much acting to look like you were freezing your butts off.

Garrett Hedlund: “All the scenes that were sort of shot towards the beginning were horrendous, because it was January in Canada. I was from Minnesota, so I was a little more adapted to that sort of weather, more than these guys, but blood thinned out as well, and it got f**king cold up there.”
Andre Benjamin: “It was scenes, like the scene on like the white area, where you didn’t see any land. We were shooting on top of a lake, it’s frozen, so it’s kind of like a human standing on a big block of ice. And there were no trees to stop the wind, and it was just so cold, that my mouth would freeze up, and I’d have to warm it up so I could say my lines. I have never been that cold in my life.”

Was the chemistry on set, the teasing brotherly vibe, immediate, or did it come to you in stages?

Benjamin: “I can say that it was a blessing, because I’m an only child, and so going into a movie called Four Brothers…We didn’t have time to rehearse–usually you have weeks to rehearse with the cast–and so we had a week and then we pretty much just did hockey practice. So a lot of bonding came from playing hockey and going out at night, but it was natural. Everybody’s personality was cool, no egos, we laughed, and joked, and we got so comfortable we could talk about each other. Even racial jokes, because we knew about it – you know how it was, the black, white, black, white, brother-type thing. So it was cool.”

What were some of the nicknames you gave each other on set?

Benjamin: “We always got on [Garrett’s] hair size. Because he had this hairdo, you know? He’d come out of the trailer in the morning with this big bouffant, type thing. So we always got him about that. They got on my clothes–they said it was too tight. Actually the line in the movie about my teeth–That was made up. After that day, I just knew…I said ‘Well, Tyrese, for the rest of my life, people are gonna talk about my teeth because of that line.’”
Hedlund: “Let’s face it, these guys–you see how much they sort of taunt [my character] when he does speak, and so he sort of goes in a world on his own, sort of sits back. He kind of separates himself from the bunch.”

Andre, you’re relatively new to the acting game. Have you taken any formal training, or is it all on-the-job experience?

Benjamin: “Even before I started in music in middle school and in high school, I was in a drama troupe, in a performing arts school, but I’ve never thought about being an actor. It was kind of just being chosen to be in stage plays like Charlotte’s Web and stuff like that. But after doing music, doing videos, I’d get calls from producers and directors and they’d tell me come hang out and try out for this role, and I started to like it. And so I moved to California because I was spending so much money on hotels and airplane tickets.”

What’s the allure for a recording artist to go into acting? Why does it seem to be a natural progression from videos?

Benjamin: “Videos and films are totally different. Because you’re hiding behind music, you know? And you pretty much just lip-sync. And in film, you know, they yell ‘Action!’ and it’s as quiet as it is in here, and you have to believe it, you know? You have to go in to it.”

On screen in this film, you seem like such a relatable Everyman, very normal. And very different from your flashy OutKast music persona.

Benjamin: “Andre 3000 is a character in itself, you know, so I’m actually closer to Jeremiah than people think, you know.”

Garrett, you arrived in L.A. and seemingly immediately got cast in a big film. Did you ever really struggle?

Hedlund: “Prior to going out there, I sort of picked up the book and started studying, reading anything I could to sort of just increase that ability to sort of analyze material and put myself in a character’s shoes. With every novel, every series, I’d see myself as that person, so when it came time to read scripts, it came a little more natural. When I was in Arizona, I started reading scripts. I’d read the scripts to the movies that I haven’t seen, and take my take on the character and pretend that I was gonna go in. Movies like ‘Five Easy Pieces,’ and things with great actors when they were still young, the movies that started them off. Then after that I’d watch the movie and see what they did, but the whole thing with that sort of study was just to show myself that there were no rules, and that I could actually follow my instincts and train my instincts.”

Did you create this back story for yourself, your character, to explain who you’d become?

Hedlund: “Yeah, you do, you write a complete back story, which will just help you answer any questions that aren’t, you know, answered in the script. Anything that’s not in the script is there in your mind, so therefore writing back story definitely helps you out. I remembered when I first started, even going in on auditions, I would write fifteen pages of back story on the character, from the beginning, from starting in this life, so like what his fears are and just sort of about him, I almost wrote it like a short story about this character, and sort of, you know, even if it wasn’t sort of almost the same as what’s on the page, but it’s already then for becoming a character in my mind.”

Andre, you’re the voice of reason, was it hard to be dramatic when you’re really so cool?

Benjamin: “No, I think humans, you look for any chance you can to do stuff like that, you know. By that time, like, the character, you know, but I think you have to know–and I don’t know if they showed it that much in the film, but growing up, we all were knuckleheads, we all did the street thing, so we were all in the same boat, but I guess they moved out of town, I stayed in Detroit. Like once you have a wife and two kids, two girls, you kind of have to slow it down. And I think I was the only voice of reason or the more responsible one because of that, I had more to lose than any other of my brothers. But at the same time, I still had pride, there were certain scenes cut out of the movie, like I think, like me and Tyrese were sitting at the table, me and Angel, I’m sorry, were sitting at the table, and I think he’s testing me, you know, because they come back into town, I have a house, and a family, so they’re trying to play like I’ve softened up, you know, and I kind of snap on him at the table, but I think they took it out.”

As a recording artist, how is it learning to let it go and really having to be emotional?

Benjamin: “It’s therapy. It’s therapy, it’s good, it’s good, I remember I was shooting My Life in Idlewild, and I’m not gonna tell you like scenes or whatever, but when I left that movie, I felt like a new person, because I had to go places that I hadn’t gone in like ten years must have been, you know, in OutKast, because you’re not supposed to show those parts. So it was like therapy it was good.”

What do you get from working with John Singleton?

Benjamin: “To always iron your clothes before you go outside. [laughs] It was a joke on the set: we called him John Wrinkleton. Because he always came wrinkled. I think the intensity. I had a conversation with him, I said ‘What’s the difference between these two directors and those two directors?’ And he always said ‘I’m an old school director. The people I study, they give the emotion out of the movie.’ He said ‘If I feel like I can make you feel something visually, that’s cool–if it looks good, that’s cool. But if I feel like I can make you laugh, if I can make you cry, if I can make you sad, if I can make you like overjoyed and happy, then I feel like I’m doing my job.’ So he looks for the emotion in it.”
Hedlund: “I came off with one good line from John [Singleton], and that was ‘If you’re gonna steal, steal from the best.’ And that’s–I think that was one of the best lines I’d hear him say.”

Benjamin: “Even before I started in music in middle school and in high school, I was in a drama troupe, in a performing arts school, but I’ve never thought about being an actor. It was kind of just being chosen to be in stage plays like Charlotte’s Web and stuff like that. But after doing music, doing videos, I’d get calls from producers and directors and they’d tell me come hang out and try out for this role, and I started to like it. And so I moved to California because I was spending so much money on hotels and airplane tickets.”

What’s the allure for a recording artist to go into acting? Why does it seem to be a natural progression from videos?

Benjamin: “Videos and films are totally different. Because you’re hiding behind music, you know? And you pretty much just lip-sync. And in film, you know, they yell ‘Action!’ and it’s as quiet as it is in here, and you have to believe it, you know? You have to go in to it.”

On screen in this film, you seem like such a relatable Everyman, very normal. And very different from your flashy OutKast music persona.

Benjamin: “Andre 3000 is a character in itself, you know, so I’m actually closer to Jeremiah than people think, you know.”



http://www.blackfilm.com/20050805/features/benjaminhedlund.shtml

Four Brothers: An Interview with Andre Benjamin and Garrett Hedlund

By Wilson Morales

John Singleton has a flare for knowing when the time is right for musicians and rappers to be in his films. From Ice Cube (Boyz N The Hood) to Tupac (Poetic Justice) to Tyrese (Baby Boy), he has found good roles that they can be proud of, and now he’s about to do the same with Andre Benjamin of Outkast. We saw what Andre can do earlier this year in “Be Cool” and now he’s playing one of the leads in Singleton’s next film, “Four Brothers”. Another lead in the film is Garrett Hedlund. Hedlund was seen as Brad Pitt’s cousin in “Troy” and played one the football players in last year’s hit, “Friday Night Lights”. As both of these guys are just starting out in the film business, Benjamin and Hedlund spoke to blackfilm.com about their roles in the film.


Are you getting more comfortable in your acting shoes?

Andre: I think the more I do it, the more comfortable being in that uncomfortable situation, so yeah. Even with music, when I first started, I didn’t know if I was good or not, so I didn’t know if I was good until people said, “Hey! You’re good.” So, I really don’t know.


Andre, this is your third or fourth feature that we will see you in this year. How’s the transition coming in from the music world?

Andre: The transition is easy. The actual transition, but it’s not really up to me. I’d say that it’s up to the people cause they have to accept me as Andre Benjamin playing a character more than Andre 3000 so we’ll see.


Are you taking lessons?

Andre: Haven’t had time. I had taken lessons in Actor’s workshop but that was like a couple of year ago, but I’ve been shooting, so I haven’t had time to really get back in class but I plan to get back.


John mentioned that you guys didn’t have time to rehearse, so how did you do your bonding?

Garrett: Primary, we probably became closer buddies out on the ice rink. What they didn’t force was hockey practice so these guys could learn how to skate, Andre and Tyrese.

Andre: Garrett’s a professional.

Garrett: I grew up in Minnesota, out on a farm, and I learned how to skate at a young age, so that was a great part of the film for me; to put the skates back on. I hadn’t picked up a stick in about four or five years, but yeah, we never had rehearsals, and that’s definitely something I had never done in a film. You have the time to figure out all aspects of a scene and work it out and work with these guys and really play with the options and we never got the opportunity on this but we got the opportunity spur of the moment spontaneity and to see what came out was sort of half of the mystery.


Andre, when will you know that you have fully arrived in this artistic endeavor?

Andre: I guess when people say it. I feel a certain way when I’m doing it. Like when I doing it and not thinking when I’m doing it, I feel the best, so I guess once I’m accepted by the community then I’d guess that I have done it.


Can you talk about the scene where you explain to the guys about you took care of the mother while the rest of the brothers left town?

Andre: Well, I think at that point the brothers had in their minds that I had something to do with it (mom’s death), and that it was all my fault. They were sort of asking me about something so small and it kind of pissed me off so it was like, “You’re asking questioning me and beating me about some insurance bill because I paid insurance bills?” At that point it was like, “How dare you question me about insurance bills when actually I paid everything” and with that, things turned.


Can you talk about playing hockey?

Andre: We only had like four or five days to practice and I had never worn skates before so my ankles weren’t together so and I was really like a baby for like the first three days but by the third day, I started to pick up and like it and started to do tricks and skate backwards and spray ice…

Garrett: While wearing pads. (Laughs)


Garrett, you’re the baby in this. Are you the baby at home?

Garrett: I am, but this is a whole different one. This character got picked up on and I don’t know if he sort of deserved it but it’s definitely completely different from the other characters that I’ve played. The sort of mentality… I don’t even remember what I was thinking in a lot of those times.


Did your character have a music career?

Garrett: They have a scene that was cut out that was sort of a flashback scene of him up on stage rocking up on this head through speaker and stripping his shirt off and raising his guitar to the air. I think it will be put back in during the end credits but that will maybe answer some questions.


Andre, you co-wrote a movie with your partner. Are you going to branch out even more into producing other things in terms of movies?

Andre: I think you are talking about is “My Life in Idlewild”. I didn’t co-write the movie with Bryan Barber. Me and Bryan are from Atlanta, Clark University and we’ve known each other for a long time and we have always written our videos concepts together. So we wrote two video concepts and HBO got a hold of the video concepts and said, “Can you make it into a movie?” Bryan takes our video concepts and he writes the script to “My Life in Idlewild”.


Are you looking to seize more of your career by branching out anyway?

Andre: Oh yeah, most definitely. My first look deal is with Paramount and Nickelodeon and that whole MTV and I have a couple of projects that I’ll bring. I’m more of a concept writer. I haven’t gotten to the point… I haven’t taken writing classes. I don’t know anything about screenwriting that much but maybe in the future I will.


Is there a prejudice like people like yourself going from music into movies. John Singleton said that you had told him some point, “I’m interested in doing a movie” and he said, “I just blew him off” because he didn’t really take you seriously I guess until he had seen you in a couple of movies and then he realized that maybe you did have the chops. Do you feel that there that there is that sense out there?

Andre: Most definitely, but I don’t think it’s entirely prejudice. I’ve done characters all throughout my career like the “hey ya guy”. I think people get attached to that character and don’t want to see me in anything else or can’t see me in anything else and I have a problem because I can’t pull off the job playing another character. So it’s kind of like a hindrance so a lot of casting directors may feel like people may see me as the guy dancing around in the video. I think there’s a lot of pressure going into this.


But you’re working hard to overcome that obviously?

Andre: The only thing I can do is do the job and play a character to the tee. It’s not even up to me at the point; it’s up to the audience.


What are your musical tastes?

Garrett: I was a big fast Outkast before Andre joined the film and I was very excited to work with Andre on this; to work with a great cast and a great director and I feel very fortunate.


Who’s a better skater, Andre or Mark or better rapper, Andre or Mark?

Garrett: That’s good one. Better skater? Mark was practicing for about a month or earlier but you can still see the un-cordinations. Better rapper? Heck, I don’t know. I started listening to Marky Mark once I was in Canada and I started reciting lyrics to Marky Mark once I was in Canada.


How’d he feel about that?

Garrett: He would just say, “Shut up”.

Andre: He actually sang Tyrese R & B songs too.

Garrett: I was the only one that wasn’t a singer.


How was working on “Revolver” compared to this film?

Andre: I’ve only shot 5 films to date and I’ve learned that working with different directors, they work differently. With Guy Ritchie, his shooting schedule is quick because he knows in his head; he edits a lot. He wants emotion but at the same time, he will say, “Now say this line” 50 times and four different ways; so it’s not going through the whole scene. It’s just standing there saying the same thing, four different ways and he knows how he’s going to cut it. In working with John, he’s about emotion.


How are you in shooting guns?

Andre: I think people will be pleased with this film. In “Revolver”, I play a loan shark and I think Guy Ritchie fans are just going to be happy because they got on him about the “Swept Away” thing. He’s back to the shoot-em-up Guy Ritchie.


Does it take place in London?

Andre: You don’t know where it takes place. We shot in London and in other places but it’s sort of multi-racial, multi-cultural and different accents. It’s mixed up.


Will you have a cut on the soundtrack for this film?

Andre: No, I don’t think so because I think it’s too late now; maybe the Guy Ritchie movie which comes out in September. I’d love to do songs for soundtracks but I just haven’t had time.


As you make this transition, what won’t you do in the film business?

Andre: There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do right now because the challenge for is to get into character and play something that I’m totally not. That’s what I get out of it. If the story is good, then it’s a challenge to get into character. I actually had gotten a script to play a homosexual disco guy, the story of Sylvester. I have to make a decision of when to do it. I can’t just jump out and my first acting role is playing a homosexual, but as actor, you have to do it. You have to act. You can’t have any reservations about it.


Will your music suffer? Are you worried about that?

Andre: I do worry about it but honestly, it’s a blessing because the film thing came at a great time. A lot of people don’t know that we have been doing OutKast for ten years. “Hey Ya” was the first big single and it was our biggest album to date, but we had been doing it for so long, you get to the point that you start looking for new inspiration and things to do. I think I will always do music in some form or fashion.


From “Troy” to “Friday Night Lights” to this, are you having a good time getting roles?

Garrett: Yeah, I have a good time getting roles. I been fortunate enough to work with a lot of good people to sort of sit back and take from them and learn. It’s definitely different character in those films. This character takes a lot of criticism and half the time I would be looking at the screen and I don’t even recognize who that is. So that was fun.


Did you have to read for this?

Garrett: Yes, I read with John. I hadn’t met John prior to that so I went in and was able to get it that way and I’ve to read for all the films I’ve done so far and I’m proud about that. Did you meet the guys before and see how you would react with them. I met Mark after they had been considering me for the role and didn’t meet these guys until Toronto for the table read. We got out there a week before we started filming. We didn’t have time to sit back and bond and truly none of that was even forced; all of us just sort of naturally got along. Our personalities just sort of clicked and that was really fortunate for us to not force friendliness.


Sofia Vergara mentioned that it was torture being in the cold.

Garrett: The part that was torture was so big and trying to be a rock star that he didn’t concentrate on wearing any warm fucking clothes. So while all these guys are outside wearing nice warm jackets, I have this very thin leather jacket and it was freezing.


Do you have anything coming up next?

Andre: Yeah, I think I do, but we haven’t announced it yet.


Was there any significance to the tattoo you had in the film?

Garrett: Yeah. It was supposed to be the band’s name. There’s a scene that will be put back in during the end credits.


Was there anything in the script about your sexuality?

Garrett: Yeah. It was banter in the script which I don’t know. He’s a foster kid. He went from foster house to foster house so it implies an issue there. Whatever happened there definitely wasn’t spoken of.

FOUR BROTHERS opens on August 12, 2005 

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