I had the pleasure of speaking with Tony Revolori, a.k.a. Zero the "Lobby Boy" from Grand Budapest Hotel and Jib from the movie Dope. He was promoting the DVD and Blu-Ray release of the film, which I have seen twice and recommend quite highly.
The first thing I asked him was to highlight the difference between working on a Rick Famuyiwa-directed project (Dope) and a Wes Anderson one (Grand Budapest Hotel).
"It was very different. Wes was very precise with what he wanted. Rick was a lot more open to interpretations with many different things. It was a different process, but I thoroughly enjoyed working on both of them. I had a lot of fun, and the movies turned out so well and I'm very proud of the work that I did."
There is a scene that I won't spoil from Dope that mentions the N-Word, which is still a hot-button issue in this day and age. Blake Anderson of Workaholics fame (who also stars in the film) asks why Tony's character can say the N-Word and he can't. The word pops up many times throughout the script, as well. I think it's prevalence in the movie helped to take some of the power away from it.
Tony explained his viewpoint on a white guy like Blake's character feeling he can say it (because he does so in a loving way) and those who don't want others to use it:
"It's just a word. I see both arguments, but it's a strange thing to be in that conversation and not being black or white. It's kind of a gray area as you see in the film, we comment on it. It's a strange thing for me, but you know, Freedom of Speech, I guess. [People] have their rights to say whatever they want to say, and if people don't like that... then well, you can try to change their minds."
Tony is a big-time musician, and I asked him what kind of music he liked...
"I'm into pretty much everything... I listen to different genres. I love everything from folk to rap, electronica, and y'know classic rock. I definitely expanded my horizons into hip-hop when I started doing this movie, and I started listening to a lot more of that stuff which is great."
Going off the hip-hop thread, I wanted to see what Tony thought about what a non-hip-hop fan might want to hear before going out and buying Dope. Or renting it. I think the movie could potentially get pigeon-holed as a hip-hop movie, but it's much more as you'll see if you watch it.
"I would just pitch them the idea that it's 3 modern kids. It's a film about 3 geeks growing up in the hood... and it's great story, great commentary, great acting, great music. And if none of that gets you, go see it for the wonderful characters and the funny jokes."
Pharrell's influence on the film was clear from the very beginning. He worked on the music for the movie and executive produced.
"He did all the music and we (Kiersey Clemons, Shameik Moore, and Tony himself) recorded all of the music... we did the four songs for the soundtrack.... it was great to do the songs, because it set us on a path... Pharrell had a fantastic influence on the film, and I was so happy to report to him and just to know him, personally."
His favorite song from the soundtrack (which is bomb, by the way) is "Can't Bring Me Down".
The bond between Clemons, Moore, and Revolori was obvious as well. Tony spoke on that...
"You know, I had been there from the very beginning. I think I was the first person ever to audition for the role of Jib for sure... I got to see and witness everyone who came along to audition for Malcolm, and Diggy. I remember the last casting session we did where Shameik and Kiersey came in... they were both extremely nice and just genuine great people. We kind of clicked, and I don't really know how to explain it... they were the ones that got it because they came in and did such a great job."
Check out the movie, you'll be glad you did. It's dope!