Q&A WITH JOHN SINGLETON (part 2)

Back to the movie. You seem to have a talent plucking new talent out of the crowd, especially musicians. What made you decide to go with Tyrese for the lead role? ^ I had him come in and read for the role just like I would any other actor. He just had this rhythm, and I felt like he had something that would keep an audience interested in him.
What is it about Tyrese that you think separated him from all the other young actors who auditioned or could have fit the role? ^ Tyrese, the great thing about him is that he has this light, this shining light like an aura over him. The cat was a movie star who hadn’t done a movie yet.
Do you find it more difficult working with inexperienced actors? ^ No, I think it is very liberating. They don’t have any bad habits that actors who have been doing what they do forever can have. They are more free and more directable. You ask them to do something and they do it– they don’t put up a fight.
There are quite a few violent scenes in Baby Boy, as well as many emotional ones. Which scene was the most difficult scene for you to shoot during the making of this film? ^ Actually it was the scene between Tyrese and the baby. The baby was my year-and-a-half-year-old daughter and she kept crying in-between takes. When you see her in the movie and she’s smiling, that’s my hands holding her– not Tyrese’s. That was the most difficult scene to direct because I couldn’t get her to stop crying. I actually had a double baby, and I had the double baby do it and my daughter watch and finally I put her back in. Then she did it without crying because she didn’t want the double baby to get the scene.
Baby Boy is also very sexual during some parts… ^ Yeah, the studios repressed me last year when I did Shaft because it was such a big budgeted film that they were afraid to have sex in it. With this movie though I was like no, it’s going to be sensual and very very sexy. I got to have final cut. As for the next Shaft, Samuel L. Jackson and I are going to have that there has to be a lot of sex in the film in our contracts. (Laughs)
Since you mentioned Shaft, many people would consider that movie your big break as a filmmaker since it had such a big budget. What are the things you have learned film-wise from “Boyz N the Hood” to Baby Boy? ^ I think I learned how to be a better storyteller. I learned how to be more succinct, more focused. If you look Baby Boy compared to any other film I have made, every image has thought behind it.
What does Baby Boy mean for you? ^ This is really just a bookmark to something I did at the beginning of my career.
So what’s next for you? ^ I don’t know yet. I have to find a story that really really excites me. The thing with this movie is that we all became like a family, so maybe– hopefully– I will get to work with this cast again sometime.
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Posted on June 26, 2001 in Interviews by
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