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November 2008
MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA | An Interview with Cedric The Entertainer

An Interview with Craig Robinson
by Wilson Morales

November 3, 2008

As the cliché goes, ‘Timing is Everything’, and for Cedric The Entertainer, it couldn’t have happened at a better for ‘Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa’ to come now. His last film,
‘Street Kings’, didn’t leave a lot to be desired when it’s filled with guns and violence. As we enter the Fall season and the kids are anxious to see something in theaters that will give them smiling faces, doing a sequel to a successful film is the right recipe. As the sidekick Maurice to Sasha Baron Cohen’s character, Cedric doesn’t have a whole lot to say. His facial expressions do all the talking. His probably regret in working on this film is that he didn’t get to have a scene with the late Bernie Mac, his fellow friend and comedian who passed away this summer.

In speaking with Blackfilm.com, Cedric spoke about his role in the film, his upcoming film ‘Cadillac Records’, and his stint on Broadway with John Leguizamo.

I see you were able to leave New York for LA to promote the film.

Cedric: Yeah, I had to jump out of rehearsals and came out here for this. Of course, I wanted to be here for this. I loved the idea of coming home and taking my kids to see the film.

Have you seen it already?

Cedric: Yes. I had a chance to catch a screening in New York last week and it’s a great movie. I was concerned with the first one being so successful whether or not they would be able to pull it off again. You read your part and you see what’s going on, but it’s good to see it all come together. I thought it was really funny. It had great themes and great lessons in it. I liked this one a lot.

Were your kids part of the motivation for doing this?

Cedric: Definitely. The last film I did was ‘Street Kings’, which had a lot of violence and my kids don’t need to see daddy get murdered. One of the reasons a lot of actors do these films is because if they have kids, this is something the whole family go see together and the kids can tell their friends about it.

What’s it like to work on a film like this with all these comedians and yet neither of you gets to actually work together with the exception of Chris Rock and Ben Stiller?

Cedric: That’s really the hardest part about animation, especially with a film like this because the cohesive energy seems to be right there. Everyone has this feeling that we are together which wasn’t the case, but from what I could do with my scenes, I could sense what Sasha (Baron Cohen) was going to do next. It would have been better had we done one scene together. It would have created some energy on the set and let some funny things happen.

Have you met Sasha before?

Cedric: Yes. We met after the first one in New York and at a couple of different events. That was it. That was also the first time I met Ben Stiller, which was after the first film at the premiere.

Did you know Bernie Mac was in the film?

Cedric: I knew Bernie was in the movie and yet it caught me off guard when I heard his voice. It was weird. I had a lot of feelings at the moment when I first heard him in the film. It was exhilarating energy to know that we are in the same film and a sadness to know that he is gone. I thought he was great in this movie too. He had this funny warm feeling the way he played the role and it was really good.

It is easier to do an animated film when all you have to do is worry about your voice?

Cedric: Yeah, to a certain degree. It’s definitely worth something when you don’t have to spend time in the makeup trailer. That would be really vain of you if you did. I did some recording here in LA and also in New York. With animation, they can call you at any time, day or night.

How many sessions did you do?

Cedric: I think I did five over the course of a year and a half to two years. When it’s spread out like that you almost forget what you are doing.

What else do you have coming out?

Cedric: I have ‘Cadillac Records’ coming out in December where I play Willie Dixon. I worked mostly with Jeffrey Wright on the film. I’m also going to be on Broadway for the first time doing David Mamet’s American Buffalo with John Leguizamo and Haley Joel Osment. We start previews on Oct.31st and we open on Nov.17th. I’m excited about it. This is a little different from what I do as a stand up comedian. With this play, each word is connected otherwise the whole ship falls apart.

How long are you contracted to do that?

Cedric: il April 2009 I believe. I could come out in March if I need to because I’m working with ABC on a project that may get greenlit.

Will you be uprooting your family to New York?

Cedric: Yes, but they won’t come until the end.



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