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November 2006
An Interview with Nick Cannon

An Interview with Nick Cannon
By Wilson Morales

November 13, 2006

In the last few years, Nick Cannon has build himself an impressive resume that consist of acting, hosting, and singing, all which has translated into successful results. When he’s not acting, Cannon’s hosting the MTV show titled “Wild ‘N Out”, which he helped create and also stars in. This coming Fall, Cannon will release his second album. Since blazing on the big screen with “Drumline”, his subsequent films has generated less than stellar reviews, but his upcoming role in “Bobby” should generate some positive notices for his performance. In the film directed by Emilio Estevez, Cannon plays Dwayne Clarke, a young aide working on the Kennedy campaign hoping that Bobby is the last best hope for his community during this civil rights era. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Cannon spoke about his role, what the film means to him, and working alongside Harry Belafonte.

Can you talk about your character Dwayne Clarke?

Nick Cannon: Dwayne Clarke is a young angry brother who comes from a standpoint of a young man that has lost all hope and sees Bobby Kennedy as the last hope and the last chance for there to be change in the black community. He will play his part in the Kennedy campaign and help it move it forward.

How much did you know about Bobby Kennedy prior to taking this film?

NC: Prior to this film, I would have to say that I knew what the Kennedys represented from an iconic point of view. I understood that they were American royalty, but I didn’t know the specifics. I didn’t understand the humanitarian and the humility of Robert Kennedy until this film.

With as much as you could have learned in school, what did you know of 1968?

NC: Through history and everything, 1968 was a pivotal year. It was the same year that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and a lot of civil rights protests had moved forward. 1968 was a defining year.

What led you to take a small part in this film?

NC: Well, in this film, there were no small parts. It’s an ensemble cast done in the most effective way I have ever seen. You have 22 main characters and everyone is on screen for an equal amount of time; and it’s truly amazing because each character has their own story and their own struggle and each of them are so significant that it makes perfect sense that my character was one of many that fit into this puzzle of a perfect film.

How was it to work in this film amongst a bevy of talent?

NC: It was amazing. It was a dream come true. I never imagined working with such a cast in my life.

Although most of your scenes are with Joshua Jackson, did you get a chance to bond with Lawrence Fishburne and Harry Beleafonte?

NC: Absolutely. Joy has been a friend of mine for a while and Josh is someone who became a good friend, my life was affected by having spent some time with Harry Belafonte. It changed my outlook and my profession of being in the public eye. The man is truly a legend and he set an example as he conquered certain issues in this business.

Within the film, your character is asked which position he would like to hold in office, and Dwayne says “Secretary of Transportation”. Why do you think he chose such a position?

NC: He chose it because it was low key. He’s not really the guy who wants to be on the soapbox and in front of everybody. He wanted something where he can do his part and be low-key.

On the screen, he didn’t appear to be so angry as opposed to how you described him.

NC: I think it was a build. I definitely think he had humility and compassion and all for the right reasons, so it wasn’t like a militant thing, but he was a no-nonsense type of guy. You get to see the anger and the pain and the hurt towards the end of the film when he’s seen throwing chairs and crying and breaking down and all of that. That was the build up and as you can see, he was saying that this is his last chance, or his community’s last chance for someone to come in and make a difference.

How much research did you do before and after the film?

NC: Quite a bit. I studied civil rights activists like Stokey Carmichael. I did my research on Dr. King’s speeches, Malcolm X’s speeches; just trying to pay attention to the climate that was going on in the 60s and at the same time I did some research on the Kennedys and what Bobby Kennedy represented as well.

After doing this film, do you have a new perspective on life and the war considering that some of the themes in the film relates to what’s happening now?

NC: Absolutely. The times are extremely relevant to what’s going on in the film and today. The speech at the end of the film should be told today and it would make so much sense. I would say that after sitting down with Mr. Belafonte that my outlook has changed with this film and really taking a stand and doing something and striving to help better the nation as much as I can.

Does doing this film give you a new insight as to your future film choices?

NC: I don’t think I want to do a film again that doesn’t ring home and doesn’t strike a chord. That doesn’t mean I can’t do comedy and all that anymore, but I just want every film I do to be a film of substance.

In the film, is that your real hair or just a thrown on wig?

NC: Nah, that’s my real hair.

What do you have coming up next?

NC: The next film I have coming out is “Day of the Dead” with Mena Suvari and Ving Rhames and that was fun to do. I had a great time. I’m a huge fan of George A. Romero.

What’s your character in that film?

NC: I play Salazar, a military guy. An Army guy who’s sort of the comedic relief in the film.

Are you expected to live throughout the film?

NC: Let’s hope so. I’ll probably last longer than the average black man in this type of films.

What’s after that?

NC: Well, I have a number of things on the horizon. I did an independent film called “Weapons” that’s coming out as well. Paul Dano and a couple of other young actors are in the film. The film makes a political statement.


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