Jun 2002
Undercover Brother : Eddie Griffith

Undercover Brother : Eddie Griffith

AH: How did you get involved with the Undercover Brother project?

EG: Well, I was in jail and Brian Grazer called me up. We were visiting through the glass and he explained that he wanted to make sure that I did not have to pick up any more soap. So he said they would bail me out so that I could play this part of Undercover Brother. I said cool!

AH: What were you in jail for?

EG: It was a triple bypass attempt without having a doctor’s license. It was a small child from Bangladesh and I was over there after the war and….y’all know I’m just kiddin’

AH: Did you have a chance to check out the web version of Undercover Brother?

EG: Yeah, I was a big fan of Undercover Brother on the website. I tuned in weekly. I knew about it and was already on top of it when I first heard about the script. John Ridley is a mastermind. I read the script and began laughing, we’re talking gut laughing. I met with Brian Grazer, signed on, then met with Malcolm, and boom!

AH: What makes you laugh harder: Black people finding stereotypes about white people funny, or white people finding stereotypes about black people funny?

EG: Both, because you are on the outside looking in. Those perspectives are always going to be funny.

AH: How much of this was ad-libbed?

EG: It was already a funny script, but Malcolm really let me and the other comics have our own head. You can have standup comedians, but you cannot handcuff us. It’s when you let us go that the magic comes. All the rest, you can fit in.

AH: What are your thoughts about people comparing this film to Austin Powers?

EG: Let me just put it like this, [in character] the job that Undercover Brother does is the job Austin Powers wouldn’t take. I don’t think he wants those assignments! Honestly, the comparison is cool. Austin Powers is a huge success. If we get half of those numbers we will be elated. I think this film is more an Austin Powers meets Shaft. But, Undercover Brother is totally unique. “There is no other, like Undercover Brother!” Brotha Austin, just can’t get that cool - - I’m sorry.

AH: What was it like working with such beautiful women?

EG: I came to work everyday with a tent in my pants. I messed up scenes on purpose just so we could try them again.

AH: Is Dennis Richards every black man’s dream?

EG: What you talking about? When you come out of the NBA, you get a hundred million-dollar contract and a white woman! But I did not get one. I like Sista Girl and I am a player, not a stay-er. I tell them up front, “Baby, this ain’t gonna be forever!”

AH: As a standup comedian do you feel a particular amount of pressure to make sure that the scene is funny, because everybody is waiting for you to be funny?

EG: No, one of the things Malcolm told me – “Do you mind not being the funniest man in the movie? Your job is to carry the film as an actor. So I need you to be the glue.” I said, cool – I had no problem. In other movies, like Deuce Bigalow, my job is to come in, light it up, and be out. But when you are the centerpiece of a film, you have to think of the entire film and not be selfish or feel the need to be the funniest man in the movie. It was definitely a learning experience for me and it was cool that Malcolm was there to help me. I have plenty of time to do that with my standup.

AH: Speaking of Malcolm, there is another Malcolm in your life. Are you and Malcolm Jamal Warner still tight?

EG: We are still friends. We were practically married to one another for four and a half years. We went through the hells of television. When you go through that, you have a friend for life. We need more intellect and humor back on television, instead of the lowest common denominator of comedy – like the fart joke!

AH: What do you find funny?

EG: When George Bush gets on television and says, “The Evildoers,” I just have to wonder who is writing his script.

AH: Who are your comedic influences?

EG: Richard Pryor, Richard Pryor, and Richard Pryor. It’s that straight up. He is the greatest that ever did it, period. Ain’t none better. That’s a genius.

AH: Do you have any concerts lined-up?

EG: Yeah, it will be out in August 2002 on HBO. It’s called “Eddie Griffin, it’s a Family Affair”. It’s kind of a documentary about my family. There are a few hundred hours of video footage. No matter how crazy it is, it’s a family and everything is not perfect. America is one big dysfunctional family and we are still trying to figure out how to live together. This movie, Undercover Brother, makes that statement - how we can all work together to get the job done.

AH: Are you still performing with your band?

EG: Yes, that’s like another side of myself. It allows me to say stuff that I cannot express through my standup. Music is sometimes the best way to get it out. It gives me piece of mind.

AH: What are some of the other films you are working on?

EG: “Baby Momma Drama” with John Leguizamo is set up over at Miramax, and another film called “Mojo” and other film called “Deez Nuts” where I play a male Sybil with fifteen characters. I wrote all of those scripts.”