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August 2004
The Cookout: An Interview with the cast

The Cookout: An Interview with the cast

By Tonisha Johnson

With so many sci-fi, action, Anaconda killing flicks flooding the theatres, a backyard barbeque is just what we need to take a load off. Lions Gate Films in accordance with Flavor Unit Entertainment bring you an end of the summer family film.

As I sat down with the cast of The Cookout, I couldn't help but notice, that even after a long and tedious day of television, radio, and print interviews, the smiles were a mile wild and they were eager to tell there experiences on working together on the film.

Why are rappers always late?

Tim Meadows: Cause they're CPT. Color Peoples Time (lol)

What about Eminem?

Tim Meadows: Eminem is never late. It's his posse that's late. (lol)

Queen Latifah: Man, we don't play dat (lol). Naw, I'm just playing. Everything happens at night for us.

Yeah. I used to work at your show. So, I know how it was with the morning.

Queen Latifah: Aww. Man. Why you rat me out (lol)?

So, what was the attraction about working on The Cookout?

Tim Meadows: For me was the chance to work with Queen Latifah. The chance to work with Danny Glover, Farrah Fawcett, and the fact that they were going to pay me with a check that was going to clear (lol), so I didn't have to worry about that. Being able to spend a month in New Jersey (wow) can't pass that up!

Storm P: Well for me. Latifah made the call and I was like of course, I'd love to be in this movie. Thank you. I mean, I'm not going to turn anything down. I love the story. Just for me the character wasn't a typical character. He had a real struggle that he had to get through. He had to learn something to really grow up throughout the film. I wanted to be a part of that process to show what he was going through, his growing pains.

Ja Rule: It was a different role for me. I've been playing a lot of serious characters so you know, I played somebody who had a little comedy side to them; a little humor.

Latifah, did you write the script?

Queen Latifah: No. Actually one of my good buddies who help me get into the business, Ramsey Gbelawoe, he wrote the script. He's one of our homeboys from the Flavor Unit. Shakim came up with the concept. Cause he had gone to a cookout.

For those who don't know…a cookout is a Barbeque! (lol)

Queen Latifah: Some say Barbeque, we say cookout. (lol) So, Shakim had went to this cookout slash barbeque or whatever. And some of the elements of this story sort of happened. Pro player and his whole family came and some of them were buck wild and some of them would trash the place a little bit. Everybody else was cool. You got people who were used to nice stuff and people who will tear up anything. So, it was like, Ok, there's a story in that. So we all got together, the whole little Flavor Unit crew. We started fleshing out the idea and sort of making it into a complete concept. And once we got that done, we gave it to Ramsey and he wrote it. He actually came in with the best treatment on how to write it. We actually offered it to a lot of different people but our own homeboy came in with the best one. We had already sold our idea to Lions Gate. They liked the idea. And then we got Lance to direct it. Lance has been down with us for awhile and we like to give opportunities even though he's never done a movie. But were like OK, you can do this. So we gave him a shot. And why did we do this particular kind of movie? We wanted to make urban movies. You know, fairly inexpensive. urban films. But we didn't want to tell the typical story that we could tell. You know, shoot em' up bang, bang. Whatever! That we all see and we all know. We could tell those stories in our sleep. And they've been told and told well by some people but we didn't feel we needed to come and tell the same story again. So we wanted to make something that was more family oriented, lots of comedy. Something that is an urban film. I don't; know, some people think urban means black. Urban means, really, citified for us. People from the city can identify with it and so it's not just for black people. It's for blacks, Latinos, Whites, Asians, American Indians or Native Americans, whatever you want to say. It's for everyone. So that's what we wanted to start off with.

Were you always going to play the psycho Security Guard?

Queen Latifah: I had debated. I wasn't attached to the movie when we first sold it. So I didn't have to be in the movie. It was just something that we felt would be a good idea. I couldn't be in the movie heavily. First of all, it didn't require me. I'm not like one of the main characters and there really wasn't a role for me that required me to be one of the main characters. And also, I knew I was going to be shooting another movie at the same time so there was no way I could do two movies that I was really heavy in at the same time. But, this little role was a fun little role. This character is off her rocker. And I'm like ok; I can come in a play that little nut. And as long as I can have fun, I will have the energy to do it. But if it's something that's just not enjoyable at all and drain me then I just don't have the energy to do it at all. This was like a fun little way to get Queen Latifah in the movie, which I thought was, obviously from a business perspective, would help promote it. And the role is actually a fun character to play.

A lot people can say negative things about this movie like the Hootchie momma who doesn't know the father of her kids. How would you be able to defend that?

Tim Meadows: I can accept the critisizm for that in this movie. Because there are a lot of other characters who are not like that. Whereas the movie Soul Plane, there's nothing to balance it out. It's all imagination. This movie, yeah, there are some caricatures and it might not make everybody happy but there is a little bit of truth to those characters too. Just like the character Little D who doesn't know the father. I have some "little Ds" in my family. I have cousins with kids that have different fathers and they're relationships are not together anymore. But for me to say that that doesn't exist, it's not true. And also, it exists in other cultures too.

Latifah, did you have any reference points running through your head? Anyone you know that this part can relate too?

Queen Latifah: Any damn, fake cop! Anybody who's ever harassed you in a supermarket, a clothing store, an airport. There's plenty of them. I mean, there are some of them who are like "ok, turn around, take off your shoes", and they really get off on that. I figured my character would be, because you know, she was having a little bit of a power trip. The difference is she actual has a weapon at her disposal…

You mean, "Break the Glass!"?

Queen Latifah: Yeah (lol) and she's trying not to use it. Don't ask me how she got the weapon. Don't ask me for those kinds of explanations (lol).

This character was different than your other characters. You're usually so strong and in your roles you prove that you're a good actress.

Queen Latifah: Thank you. But in some of the future roles that you see me in, I won't be quite as strong. I may be strong but the strength comes from a different place. And you can find strength in vulnerability. And sometimes people who are not outspoken are very strong people. You'll see that in some of the characters that I play in some of the movies that are up and coming. But when she's (security officer) not harassing people, she's on the phone with her boyfriend, who cheats on her relentlessly. And she's not letting him go and if she thinks he's going anywhere, he's not. She's just like kinda off. And she loves him despite all the crazy stuff he does. And we know people like that and they can still function in society. They got a place in this crazy country of ours too, so, there are plenty of places I can pull from to do this character.

Did you add anything to your role, in regards to writing something extra like ad-libbing on the spot? Any preparation for the sneaker signing (lol)?

Ja Rule: Naw. I kinda just free-styled that. But it was a role I thought I could jump into and be different from what I'm used to doing

Queen Latifah: I added stuff when the little girl walked away (lol); you know that kind of stuff. I added the gold tooth. I was not used to the gold tooth so I just started sucking on the thing ‘cause it was in my mouth (lol). The character, we sought of, kinda, developed it on the spot. I knew who the character was. But it took me a couple of hours to get it right on the set. I was trying to switch gears from my role on Taxi. And it was my first day on the set, so up until that point it was all Producer and now it's like, Ok, act. So it took me a minute to you know, just work it out.

Hey Ja, did anyone ever bring you some sneakers to sign?

Ja Rule: I've signed a few sneakers in my day (lol).

Storm P, being that Latifah contacted you personally for the film did you guys ever work personally on any other projects?

Storm P: Yeah. We had worked personally before, musically. We done the Unit album together and some soundtrack work. But I had worked with her before, nothing in acting.

Will you be working with Latifah on a soundtrack to The Cookout?

Storm P: We don't have a sound track. Maybe the next movie it will happen. But right now I'm just riding this Hollywood ride.

Did you guys have any crazy cookout experiences yourselves?

Storm P: From good food to burnt food. Playing a record, it scratches. Everybody yelling "come on. What you doing." You know. I actually remember one time I was having a cookout with some of my friends and had a couple of drinks. Too much. And I thought I could DJ. That was real embarrassing. They had to get me off of there.

Ja Rule: kill the DJ(lol).

Who does most of the cooking at a cookout at your house?

Storm P: I'm more of an indoor cook. Not an outdoor cook. I'm working on that one. I like to make flambé desserts. I gotta work on the outdoor stuff.

Did you guys get to eat all the food that they were making for the film?

Ja Rule: Hell NO! If you would have smelled that food. Been sitting on the table for 12 hours. Forget about it.

Storm P. That was acting.

What other projects do you have going on right now?

Ja Rule: my new album will be in stores November 9th entitled R.U.L.E.

Do you find it a bit to step back and be a collaborator or is it pretty much the same?

Ja Rule: It's different but the same. Both of them you deal with a rhythm. You doing music you live to be. When you doing movies its actor to actor. You bounce off that rythmn. You feed off each other. It's kind of the same but the different. It's different in the fact that, I'm Ja Rule when I'm making my records. And I'm usually rapping about what I do, what I see, and my passion and how I feel... Bling Bling, I get to play him and he's just some guy that's wild and crazy and likes to have fun.

Were any of you bullied growing up?

Ja Rule: I'm small as you can see. So the little ones, we have to scrap all the time (lol). That's how I grew up.

Storm P: Not that I can remember. I think that it was one time it was attempted. But that was nullified really quickly (lol). ‘Cause I was more scared of my moms saying "you'd better not let nobody beat your…(lol).

What was it like working with Meagan Good?

Storm P: It was good. She's a hell of an actress (lol). We spent a lot of time on the set because we had to be in a lot of scenes. It was cool working with her.

Do you see yourself with a girl like her?

Storm P: Naw. I was never really into girls like that.

Ja Rule: Goldigger!

In terms of the character in this movie did you feel connected in anyway?

Storm P: It's becoming a reality now. It's kind of funny. Just how things change. And you know when you're making that transition. It's like overnight, how Anna Nicole Smith, you know, when she lost that weight, everybody was like wow. But making a big transition like that it's a matter of just staying focused. And that's what I'm trying to do. So I was able to relate to Todd Anderson in that aspect.

How would you rate your own basketball game?

Storm P: I'm solid.

How was it working with Danny Glover? Were you guys intimidated?

Storm P: Naw. That's Uncle Danny man (lol) He just won the Humanitarian Award. How could we be intimidated by him (lol). It was more of a blessing. Cause I was like, alright, its cool, I'm a new guy and I have my own talent but, God puts you in a situation for a reason. So I felt that was my time to learn as much as I could about the business and to work with him, Tim Meadows and all these other guys. So I got a chance to learn all that stuff on the first time out. So, it will be easier in the future films to come.

What is it about you that has gotten you this far?

Ja Rule: All heart. Nothing deters me. Nothing stops me. Fuck you. I'll see you there. You gotta be that way in this business.

Storm P: Faith. If it is destined to happen. It's gonna happen. Be confident in that and have faith in it.

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