February 2003
Deliver Us From Eva : An Interview with LL Cool J

Interviewed by Niambi Sims

Deliver Us From Eva: An Interview with LL Cool J

Who could ever forget when LL Cool J exploded on the scene in ďKrush GrooveĒ with his larger than life lyrics and lots of leather, engraving an indelible mark on hip hop culture! Eighteen years, 10 albums, 24 movies, and a sitcom later, LL still proves that nobody can rock quite like he can! He has always been looked upon as a sex symbol yet was never featured in a film with this status. Well, the time has come. Blackfilm.com talks to Uncle L about his first leading role in the film Deliver Us From Eva.

NS: Hey L.L

LL: How are you doing?

NS: So what got you involved in this project?

LL: It was a great script. I thought the part was great. It was a leading role which was my first and I trust the director. He was the show runner on my show for the last season. So I called him up and told him I wanted to do it and he said okay.

NS: Whatís your favorite part of the movie?

LL: The scene when we were in the car singing and the ballroom scene.

NS: Do you feel your acting roles have affected your image as a rapper?

LL: I donít have an image to maintain. I got 10 albums. Itís beyond image. This is 18 years later and for me itís just about making good music and if the music is effective it works. And if it doesnít it doesnít.

NS: Do you like both equally?

LL: Absolutely, I mean I got three records in the top 20 right now.

NS: Will Smith just got dropped from Columbia because they said he was too old to meet that market. How do you feel about that?

LL: I got 3 records in the top 20 right now thatís how I feel about it. Will is a different case. He got dropped from the label but he also got nominated for an academy award so he will be okay. As far as Iím concerned, Iím still very much in the loop with my music. Iím still very much in the loop with my films. It isnít about imagery with me because I donít have a pretend persona. Iím an artist and Iím into the art of what I do. Iím into the art of making movies, the art of making music. Rap is just the way that I express it. So I donít have the same constraints as someone who is just about being a rapper. It is about being an artist who expresses himself through rap music, film or whatever else I do.

NS: Not many people are able maintain duel careers so successfully. How do you balance the two?

LL: Itís the grace of God and itís about honesty. Itís about making the music that you feel even when it sells less than the current trends. I donít pretend to be something that Iím not. That way, even if I have a flop, I can make another record because people will know that I did my best even if they donít like it. A lot of guys get caught up in whatís hot right now. Just because Nelly has a big album this year, Iím not just going to coke out trying sing on my albums. I just do what I do, play my game and be confident in who I am and leave it at that.

NS: How did you get into acting?

LL: My first movie was ďKrush GrooveĒ in 1985. Then I made another movie, ďWildcatsĒ, and then ďToysĒ in Ď91 now I have like 24 movies. I was raised in the business. It was just how I was I groomed. Before I had a video, I had a movie. So that was always part of my consciousness.

NS: How do you feel when you look back at those movies?

LL: I feel great! I feel wonderful. It was a great time I wasnít even supposed to be in Krush groove. I was an extra but I hounded them so much that they put me in it.

NS: As an actor, did you use any special process to find your character Ray?

LL: I just break the character down and figure out the history of the character, how they look at the world, where they are from, their point of view, class, educational background, their culture, then that tells me about how they walk and talk and then I go from there. Every character isnít so far away from you that you have to do all this unbelievable research. All I had to figure out is his mannerisms, his posture, his dress, and heís a blue collar guy so I can relate to that. So itís not as difficult as playing a professor from MIT.

NS: Did you do anything special to prepare for this film?

LL: Nothing too crazy except learn to horseback ride. That was retarded for me. It was crazy because I donít really love horses like that. Other than that, nothing else was intense.

NS: What was it like working with Gary Hardwick?

LL: Gary is really smart. A director is a captain on a movie set and Gary is a good captain. You look to the director to guide you and provide an emotional stability for the whole set and Gary does that. He makes everyone around him feel at ease and calm.

NS: Do you have a spiritual foundation that keeps you grounded?

LL: God is really important to me. I have a lot of faith, I am a Christian, and I believe in tithing and I think that has a lot to do with the level of success Iím achieving in my life and Iím thankful.

NS: What words of advice would you give to upcoming rappers, actors and artists who look to you as a role model?

LL: Be true to what you really feel and set realistic goals. Never settle.