“I come from a world where I already have a fan base so therefore the definition of me is already out there. But then in Hollywood, there are people who don’t know the definition of me, he explains, touching on his intent to prove himself every time out. “When you first get a script, you can mediate on it, look in the mirror–do all types of sh*t to prepare for that character. But I still didn’t find [him] until like 9-10 days into filming. It was the scene when he comforted the Spanish girl I was able to realize who he was. Up until that point, I was acting like him. Maybe I had already been him,” he ponders, almost as if he was asking the steaming tea in front of him.
In regards to diving into another action film as they begin to pile up in his filmography, the 44-year-old living legend says he’s just allowing his career to run a natural course. “I wanted to follow [The Man With] The Iron Fists with something unique. I wanted to stay in the realm of action but not necessarily be an action star. And my peers within in the industry told me this would be good for a Black guy to do.”
“For me, the guy who’s always had to be a leader and worry about all the problems of the situation, as an actor, all that is relinquished. It’s really just a personal mission and it’s pretty relieving. Like take a movie like The Usual Suspects and you’re watching Benecio Del Toro. He decided to [talk] like that. He wanted to stand out. And as a director? I couldn’t even drink this tea without getting 50 questions. I’m talking simple sh*t like, ‘Did you say white or off-white?’ It is the same deal as being a producer.”
Speaking of being behind the boards, following the movie’s press run, RZA has bigger fish to fry–of whalelike proportions in getting a couple of Wu-Tang albums out to the public. The oft-delayed A Better Tomorrow is said to be held up solely by Raekwon, an issue RZA says will get resolved in a matter of time.
And then there’s the curious case of another Wu-Tang album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin that has a mixed reaction with the public. The Abbott and his cohorts are only planning to release one copy of the album, and already begun to auction up big numbers, in the realm of $5 million.
It may feel like a ploy to cash in on a gimmick, but RZA is adamant that this is not the case. “More importantly, the artistic value of what we’re striving to push is that this is a piece of art,” he says, visibly excited when touching on the album’s quality aspects. “I’ve seen the press break out over the money but this is six years in the making. The thing about [producer] Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh, he’s a student of mine that was a fan. Ask around how he had to win the respect instead of just getting it. A lot of my students don’t get access to my crew. It’s almost like you have to get punched in the face to join us (Laughs). But he went through the furnace. He went to school and became valuable to us. Mentally he’s on the same wavelength of how I think. I have two other parts to this idea that is going to come out over the next four months and I think the industry is going to appreciate it more and more because it’s going to add to our industry.”
As the last gulp of tea was downed and he flagged down his assistant for another, RZA had an extra drop of honey of his own. “Just like Wu-Tang added to our industry,” he concluded.
Well isn’t that profound?
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