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February 2004
Starsky & Hutch: An Interview with Snoop Dogg

By Todd Gilchrist

Starsky & Hutch: An Interview with Snoop Dogg

When Calvin Broadus committed his first verses to wax for the soundtrack to 1992's Deep Cover, few could have imagined that a rapper named Snoop Doggy Dogg would in the subsequent decade become one of the industry's most popular, celebrated and controversial figures. His album Doggystyle holds the record for being the first debut album in history to have appeared in the number-one Billboard slot its first week of release, and his subsequent efforts, particularly 2002's return to form Paid Tha Cost To Be Da Bo$$, established him as one of hip-hop's most enduring and creative forces. Impressively, Snoop has proven in recent years that his talents as a rapper are the tip of the proverbial iceberg. After some low-key appearances in Half-Baked, Training Day and John Singleton's return to the 'hood, Baby Boy, Snoop was afforded the lead roles in the horror film Bones, and the comedy The Wash, an updating of Richard Pryor's Car Wash in which he co-starred with longtime producer Dr. Dre. Demonstrating an affinity for comedies, Snoop has since thrown himself into a number of film and television projects, leading up to the Todd Phillips comedy Starsky & Hutch, where he plays Huggy Bear, the street pimp and informer who assists the titular heroes solve crimes while demonstrating an impeccable sense of style. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Snoop discussed jumping into Huggy's platform shoes at the film's recent press day.

How influential was the seventies- in music and film- in terms of your style?

SD: To me, the seventies were very inspirational and very influential to me, with my whole persona as Snoop Dogg, as a person, as a rapper. I just love the seventies' style, the way all the players dressed nice, you know, kept their hair looking good, drove sharp cars and they talked real slick.

So you could relate to this character.

SD: Yeah yeah, that's me, baby. Huggy is me, ya dig?

They shot more with you since you were so popular with test audiences.

SD: Definitely, you know, because I thought once I was done I thought I was done. They told me I had to come do some more scenes, and I thought I had messed up. I didn't know, you dig?

What scene did they add?

SD: The one where I was holding a damn iguana. I don't hold iguanas and I'm not good with reptiles and I really had to hold a real iguana and it was awww!

Did you get into wearing the clothes?

SD: I loved that mink coat, with all the flavors on it, like a rainbow. I loved that coat.

Did you keep any of them?

SD: I kept a lot of the outfits, a lot of the jewelry. They was real cool with me on the set, because they felt, you know, that was a part of me. I was Huggy, you dig? So, if I wanted to it, I should get it. I continue to bring Huggy to life.

How tough was it to play off of Vince Vaughn when he was smacking you around?

SD: Now that was hard, because he slapped the shit of me on one scene.

Did you hit him back?

SD: No, I was about to, but I stayed in character. I didn't know the director had pulled him to the side and told him, 'yeah, slap him on this one.' It caught me off guard. You know, they was like, 'oh, it was great! It came off, you should have seen the look on your face!' I said yeah, I was about to beat his ass.

How tough is it to stay in character when you have all these funny actors around?

SD: That's the fun part of it, to be able to compete with them, to be able to throw things off of them and to catch what they're throwing at you. So I think I did well with everybody I was on screen with. I had the most fun working with Fred Williamson even though we didn't have a real healthy scene, but he was somebody who I grew up loving everything he did as a kid, you know, that's the Hammer, that's Black Caesar, you know what I'm saying, and just being able to have a line with him was true for me.

Is acting a natural extension of your music?

SD: Yeah I think through my videos I've always tried to show a little piece of acting, in every video I've been a part of, but they only give us four minutes for videos, so that's what really made me want to step into the movie world, because I wasn't able to breathe like I want to breathe on the video side like I am on the movie side, so hopefully everybody will be more interested in the next couple of projects I have coming out, and they will enjoy this one.

Why do rappers make better actors that rock stars?

SD: I don't know. Probably because we take more craft, more art, more time on our craft. Once a rapper gets respect as an actor, it's his job to step all the way up and want to be the best, because, in the rap world, it's so competitive- to be the best- so anything that we do we strive to be the best, so that's why it's cool for us to take those knocks and bruises and bumps- 'well, why are these rappers getting all of these roles?' It's because the rappers deserve these roles, because when they pull them off and the movies make money, Hollywood's happy, and the rapper becomes an actor now.

Did you get to meet the original Huggy Bear?

SD: I worked with him before on one of my videos in the past, Doggy Dogg World, 1993 off my Doggystyle record. But I didn't get to talk to him or work with him on this movie. I don't know why, but it just didn't happen, but for the most part, I feel like I did him justice by playing Huggy and bringing a little bit more flavor and just doing what Huggy did for me as a kid, hopefully he'll do for kids today.

Is there an ideal movie role for you?

SD: I don't know. I just want to play in good movies with good directors, and you know, I want to step up and get bigger and better. I don't want this to be as far as I can go- I want to go further than this.

In terms of music, what's the next step for you, having accomplished pretty much everything in the recording industry?

SD: I've gotta make one more record that solidifies my career.

Anyone you want to work with that you haven't yet?

SD: On the music side? I like Quincy Jones. I think we could come up with something sharp.

Who influenced you when you were growing up?

SD: Oh definitely Richard Pryor. Musically, uh, I like Bootsy Collins, George Clinton. In sports, I like Magic Johnson, Muhammed Ali, all those guys were inspirational and influential to me as a kid.

Tell us about the fashion bit on the DVD?

SD: Yeah, it's basically where I just run down Huggy's attire so y'all can see what fashion is since Huggy's a fashion statement. You know, not only does he have the cool words, and the cool hairstyle, but he has the cool outfits, and it means a lot to bring those outfits across to people.

Were you involved in choosing any of the outfits you wear in the movie?

SD: Not with the beginning stages but more or less after the outfit was found and they would shape it and mold it.

Were there any that didn't make it into the movie?

SD: Yeah, there was probably one or two outfits, but for the most part, the lady that did the outfits, she's just remarkable.

Was there always going to be a more pimped-out version of Huggy in the film?

SD: I think if the Huggy in the seventies had more room like I had more room, I thinki he would have did it like I did it. I think that back then, television wasn't ready for what I'm bringing on the big screen, and that Huggy Bear gave me the vision to want to be this Huggy Bear, to bring him off with a space-age twist.

Is it fun to play cool like you did in the film?

SD: Yeah, to be a cool dude in the movie, because I'm usually, you know, I'm usually the bad guy or I get usually killed in the movie, but this is a movie where I think the audience is going to be loving it, and rooting for Huggy and wanting to see more of him.

Do you think perceptions of you will change as a result of you doing this movie?

SD: I don't know- I ain't seen the movie yet, so I don't know. Maybe after I see it I can voice the opinion.

Any future plans with the TV show?

SD: Right now we have not made plans to film any more episodes. I liked the six that I did, I thought I did really well, I just want to end it on that note. I don't want to try to reduplicate it, because there's so many reality shows out right now that I want to be different. When I was doing it, it was like it was just me, and me. Now it's everybody.

What are you doing next?

SD: I'm in the process of working on this 213 record, that's me, Warren G and Nate Dogg, that should be out late April or early May, and I'm also developing a couple of scripts, and looking at a couple of scripts that have been offered to me too.

Do you have ambitions to write or direct?

SD: Definitely want to do everything that's possible. I want to write, direct, produce, but in steps. I want to take steps- I don't want to just jump in because I sold a lot of records and just feel like I can jump into the movie world. Naw- I want to learn the movie world like I learned the music world.

Who do you play in Soul Plane?

SD: Captain Mack, the pilot of NWA, the first black airline.

What do you do in the movie?

SD: I fly the plane.

What have you been listening to lately that's impressed you?

SD: I like Kanye West. He's sharp.

What do you think of street culture becoming mainstream?

SD: I think mainstream is becoming street culture. I think it's no longer us crossing over to them, it's them crossing over to us. Because we haven't changed, they've changed. They've opened doors for us. How did you get into the Girls Gone Wild gig?

SD: I like girls and I like money.

How do you respond to critics who think it's unethical?

SD: First of all, what are they doing watching it?

You've won awards for music in adult films, right?

SD: Yeah, I won a couple of Adult Video Awards. It's appreciation. That's a craft, that's art- that's filmmaking also, it's just for a different audience, and to win an award my first time acting made me feel good, and let me know I could do whatever I want to do.

Do you intimidate people?

SD: I think I used to. I don't think I do anymore because people are starting to see me smile more, and see more and more appearances, to where it's not just rap. When I was just Snoop Dogg the rapper, everybody was frightened because they didn't know what to expect. Now I have so many characters I've played and so much range in me, I'm approachable. Do you prefer this?

SD: It's cool, I mean, that isn't why I do it. I do it for the love of it.

What was it like working with director Todd Phillips again?

SD: Well, on Old School, I was not an actor- I was Snoop Dogg, so I came to the set with a whole different vibe, and a different crew of people. And on Starsky & Hutch, I was more of an actor. I wasn't Snoop Dogg, the rapper.

What's your relationship with Phillips like?

SD: Oh, we real cool. That's my main man, you know. I'm just honored to be a part of this picture he decided to do, and I know that we're going to work together again in the future. Hopefully this is the beginning of a long haul.

Is there any movie performer in particular you'd like to work with?

SD: I want to work with Halle Berry. I want to work with her on the real tip, on a real movie. Some live action, you dig? Hopefully my acting skills are raised to the level of hers. She could be a love interest- some Bonnie & Clyde shit.

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