*2015’s record-breaking film, “Straight Outta Compton,” arrives on DVD January 19th, and EUR/Electronic Urban Report recently chatted with the film’s star, Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre), about what he’s been up to since he wrapped the biopic, which chronicles the rise and fall of N.W.A., the most influential and controversial rap group of the 1980’s and early 90’s.
Directed by F. Gary Gray, and co-produced by Eazy-E’s widow, Tomica Woods-Wright, the film stars Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr. and Aldis Hodge. Despite the Oscar buzz surrounding the film, it was snubbed by this year’s Academy, and Ice Cube recently told Wendy Williams that he’s not at all shocked by the slight.
We asked Corey to describe the emotions that come with being a part of the Oscars conversation.
“I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t an exciting thing to be involved in,” he said, “but I think it really is all about the work and I just love the fact the we got to come together and make this move and make something that touched this many people.”
The ‘SOC’ cast was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast at the 2015 SAG Awards. The category is often a precursor for Best Picture nominations at the Oscars.
“The Oscars conversation is really exciting but the SAG Awards, that’s special because those are actors (and) they know how hard it is to make a movie – a good film,” Hawkins said.
“Straight Outta Compton” made you a household name, are you satisfied with the quality of roles you’re being offered now?
Corey: It’s definitely taken my name and put it out there on a different level, but I still look at work, and everything that comes in, the same way. Even before I was working off-Broadway, there were lots of different TV shows that I would actually say no to and my agents would be like ‘Are you crazy?,’ but they stuck with me because they know the kind of things that excite me. I want longevity in this career. So when it comes to the roles that are coming in now, I’ve actually been excited about a lot of things. It’s just a matter of timing and when to do it because I’ve been shooting since before Compton came out.
Corey and his Compton co-star Jason Mitchell have been busy working on “Kong: Skull Island.” The film is a reboot of the “King Kong” franchise and stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, John C. Reilly, Tom Wilkinson, Thomas Mann, John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s scheduled to be released March 10, 2017.
Corey couldn’t reveal details about the film, but he did praise his “inspiring” castmates and credited his “different” character as the primary reason why he signed on to the project.
“The thing that drew me to it was the cast and our director Jordan Vogt-Roberts. I get to work with Jason again in this movie. It’s a character that I’m proud of,” he said. “He’s smart. He’s hungry and he’s just a strong character and different from any of the things that I’ve done, and that’s sort of, for me, the check list. It has to be something that inspires me and it has to be something that’s fun. I’m not going to jump on a TV show or a movie just because it has these names attached.”
Corey explained that like most black male actors, he is offered “the typical stereotypical roles,” and he acknowledged that his decision to accept or reject such roles could make or break his career.
“I know the struggle, trust me,” he said. “I know how hard it is for us to say no to a lot of things that get offered. I feel fortunate and I feel like the stuff that’s coming in for me now, I’m excited about. I feel that change in the industry.”
Do you feel that being a creative person requires that you give back by not telling a particular story?
Corey: Yes I do feel a deep responsibility every time, every character, everything that I do. That’s what drives me, cause I know there’s another actor who’s looking at me the same way I looked at Denzel growing up and I looked at Poitier. It’s something about seeing yourself on screen and seeing the heights that you can go to. I can’t censor myself to carter to this audience or that audience. You don’t always have to play Martin Luther King to inspire. I think all of our stories are valid and need to be told and I hope to continue on in that dialogue. Now I get to call Denzel Washington a peer. Now I get to call Poitier a peer. I get to have these conversations with Denzel and it’s amazing and I feel incredibly blessed for that responsibility.
The “Straight Outta Compton” DVD drops January 19. What special features can fans expect?
Corey: You really get to spend some time with us on set because if you watch the movie, you get the sense of how much fun we had making it. You really get to see us backstage creating the concerts. You get Gary’s commentary where he was coming from with each scene. I think the fans are going to love it. If you love the movie, you’re going to love the making of the movie and all the featurettes. You get to see Ice Cube and Dre and N.W.A. and Gary just grooving. That’s what makes it special.