Comedian Nick Cannon “stalked” director Spike Lee to ensure he scored a role in his new movie Chi-Raq.
The Oldboy filmmaker is back with a contemporary take on the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, set amidst gang violence in Chicago. It stars huge names like Samuel L. Jackson and John Cusack, so it’s no wonder Nick was desperate to join them.
“I have been stalking Spike Lee. I was like, ‘Put me in something, we have to work together,'” he laughed to IMDb Asks.
His persistence paid off and Spike invited him to join the project as title character Chi-Raq. It was a great turn of events, but Nick would also have been happy with a smaller role. “(When he offered me the part, I said) I’m in, I’ll be an extra, whatever it takes,” the actor grinned.
The first Spike film Nick watched was 1988 comedy-drama School Daze and Nick even credits the director as the reason he’s in the entertainment industry. His latest project struck a chord with Nick immediately, as it was so unusual.
“When I heard that (Spike) was taking Aristophanes’ play from over 2,000 years ago and putting it in modern day times, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s brave! That’s bold!’” he previously marvelled to Paste magazine. “The movie takes something that comes from the core of what fear is all about and places it in today in a way that only Spike Lee could.”
Nick’s character is a rapper and he visited the Chicago community to get his “swagger” down. As soon as he arrived, some of the area’s “peacekeepers” looked out for him.
“They took me under their wing and they said, ‘Forget the hotels and stuff, you’re coming to the ’hood.’ I didn’t leave,” he recalled. “I was with them the whole time – picking up their swag, their jargon and the way they move. They introduced me to people who have real, powerful stories of why they do what they do and how they have to abide by a certain ideology and a certain structure.”
– Cover Media