|© The Wu-Tang Corp.- 2004-05-15
IGN FILMFORCE: I've got a few Kill Bill questions for you before we talk about Coffee and Cigarettes.
THE RZA: (Laughs) They ain't gonna get mad, are they?
IGNFF: I think we'll be okay. Now that you've worked on and seen both volumes of Kill Bill, being a connoisseur of kung-fu, how do you think they stack up with the great kung-fu flicks, the Shaw brothers and stuff like that?
RZA: Against the Shaw brothers, they definitely stack up well. They should be added to the top 20 collection. But, for an American-produced martial arts film, to me it's in the top five, you know what I mean? [It's] up there with Enter the Dragon. In fact, maybe since Enter the Dragon, there hasn't really been a real American... They've got The Matrix, you could consider that a martial arts [film] in a way, but there was sci-fi in Matrix, a lot of CGI. This was really rough action, not too many wires, not too much. Just raw talent. I've said it before, I'd say Kill Bill goes in the top 20 in history. From an American producer, it goes in the top five.
IGNFF: Tarantino has recently talked about editing the film into one single movie for festivals. Will you do any additional scoring for that?
RZA: Well, Quentin has a lot of [my] stuff on film, so he could just grab anything. He also has so much music, that we really went into the library of what we were gonna use, and maybe we used 10 percent. So, he has a lot to play with. And also, he has so much musical talent and an ear [for the music] to his films, that, you know, there's nothing to lose.
IGNFF: Did you ever talk to Quentin about being in Kill Bill or would you want to be in a sequel?
RZA: Well, maybe if he do a sequel, maybe I'll jump in. But, no, I was actually on the set for over 60 days, but I never even thought about getting in front of the camera. Behind the camera, I looked through the lens... I came on the set, first and foremost, I asked Quentin could he mentor me? You know, I want be a director, can I be eyes? And he was like, 'You'll be on it.'
IGNFF: What's a Tarantino set like? Chaotic?
RZA: Naw. He's the master of his set. And everybody that's there works extra hard for him. And that's where I learned one thing about being a director. You've got to have respect of your peers and the people who work for you, underneath you. Because, if it went over, nobody minded. They got to a point where they was 20, 30 days over, you know, these people want to go home too. Even though they're making money, it's like, they have a life. I spent some nights on the roof, we were talking to some of the guys that work, we be kickin' it, and they were like, 'Man, this is really a lot.' They were there, at nine o' clock in the morning; they up, they work and do a great job. I learned from Quentin, he has a certain respect and love for the cast and crew. Great people and I learned a lot from that.
IGNFF: The music has really caught on. I heard them playing it at a Lakers game the other day.
RZA: Aw, man. That's great, right. You can't beat that.
IGNFF: What are you scoring next?
RZA: I finished Soul Plane. That comes out in May. Snoop did a great job in that movie. He's stupid in that movie. Snoop really has improved a lot with that one. People will go see that one and really, 'Okay, okay, he know what the f*** he's doing.' Soul Plane was a good look. It was a comedy, so it shows versatility for me, it shows that we can come from action to comedy, then to go back to horror/action with Blade 3, maybe I'll do one more action and then go for a drama. I'm just really trying to keep a good path and keep good dedication and focus of what I'm doing.
IGNFF: I spent some time with David Goyer in the editing room for Blade 3 a few months back. The footage looks great. Goyer said that, when he approached you, you had said that the other movies were too British.
RZA: Yeah. I'm on it. I'm definitely doing something slightly different. I'm not going to come totally different. You know, the movies have a history. But I'm definitely trying something a little different. There's more on time with what we do, on time with what music is, but still respecting the way movie music has to have motion. Hip-hop production, for instance, don't take no motion. Two or four bars and that's the music. Techno, same thing, one bar. It would loop. I'm just trying to get a balance between those two to where I can have a four pattern, four bar pattern drum, and maybe a 20 bar pattern symph. So this will give us motion, but still keep us syncopated and still keep us in a certain kind of groove in the theater. Because when you watch movies, sometimes the music, not watching Blade in particular, but sometimes the music would be, like, it don't complete, it don't finish. Sometimes it's good because it's a movie and the scene itself finishes the music, but when you become aware of the music, you don't get closure. And I've noticed that, some films don't give you closure of the music.
IGNFF: The music is too distracting?
RZA: Yeah, or [it] left you. You know how music is, if you have a dominate, a sub-dominate, then you have to come back to the root. If you go, [makes the sounds of a beat], and you're going over here, you've gotta close that phase, or your mind is waiting for that moment and it don't happen. Maybe the film can make you forget it, but it's very disturbing, especially for somebody that does music.
IGNFF: How do Jarmusch and Tarantino compare?
RZA: Well, those two, I would have to say, are on the same wavelength in a certain way. Of course, you see, Quentin is fast action and Jim is likes it smooth and Tai Chi. Now Quentin, he has some lingering shots, but what's happening in the shot is not lingering. That's the difference. You look at House of Blue Leaves, that's a whole one Steadicam shot. That's about a three-minute shot and the guy he did it with is the same guy who did that long shot in Goodfellas when he walks through the bar. Great shot! Best Steadicam guy in the world, from what I've seen. And Jarmusch, you know, he'll also have a lingering shot, but the linger, he makes you think. Your eyes give up soon. Your mind starts thinking. That's what Jim does. He kind of lets the eyes see, but then, it's like staring something, but you forget you're even staring at it. You start thinking about something else.
IGNFF: How about working with Bill Murray. Was it hard to keep a straight face working with him?
RZA: Bill is funny. He's a funny man, on and off the camera. Personally, I'm a Bill Murray fan. As a kid, I'm one of the kids, like I always tell people, I paid to watch Bill Murray movies, like Scrooged and things. I went to the movie theater. I didn't wait for HBO. That was one of my Christmas gifts was seeing a Bill Murray movie. So, for me to grow up and get a chance to work with him is already a super privilege. And then, really, to meet this guy, and to be laughing at this guy, I've laughed at this guy a lot in my life, and then to be looking in his face... In my head, while we're eating lunch, just laughing, like, 'Man.' And he's just a very smart guy, very gentlemanly, but just crazy. Everything he say, sooner or later, it's just a punch line or something. I don't know if he even means to. You know what I'm saying, but yeah, Bill Murray, I've got much respect for him, and it was an honor to share the screen with him. I feel grateful to Jim Jarmusch also for making that weird connection.
IGNFF: Did you always know you were doing a scene with Bill Murray?
RZA: Yeah, [Jarmusch] didn't even tell me I was doing the scene with Bill Murray. He had mentioned to me about the scene, you know, we talked about it, in a couple of months, you know, he'd let me know. It's coming soon... Maybe I knew Bill Murray's gonna be in it maybe two days ahead of time. Because, he didn't give me the script a month ahead, he gave it to me a few days ahead before we started shooting. So it was a surprise as well as a treat.
IGNFF: Was Murray familiar with Wu-Tang?
RZA: Yeah, he seemed familiar. I don't know if he was familiar because of Jim, but he has a place in New York, Upstate New York. He also had a young guy with him that works for him and stuff that knew Wu-Tang. (Laughs) So, [Bill] made a few Wu-Tang jokes that went beyond the script. And after everything was over, you know, every once and a while, he sends his regards. I'll be on the phone and he'll say something funny about Wu-Tang. So, if he wasn't familiar prior then, I think he became familiar for that because we had a good time together, we had a good vibe.
IGNFF: Was there a lot of improv?
RZA: I would say, for our scene, I think it was basically, I would say, 75 percent script and only 25 percent improv on our scene. Some of the other scenes, people say that they improved a lot of it. But in our scene, basically, I stuck to a lot of the words. I may have changed the tonation of it, ya know, but yeah, I basically stuck to the script and tried to deliver how they supposed to do it. You're supposed to study a script, right? And so I try to take what he wrote and make it come out of my mouth in the most coolest way.
IGNFF: Murray has that rep for deviating from the script a lot.
RZA: Even with him though, great delivery of the script. Like the line, you know, he said his line. Some of the takes, I wasn't on cue, because he said his line like it wasn't the line, but the way he presented it, 'Oh, okay. He said this here.'
IGNFF: Did you crack up working with Murray?
RZA: Yeah, it took various shots to do it. The funniest thing was, I'll put it out there, the funniest thing was, he must have drunk a gallon of coffee that day. I was like, 'You're going to have a nice bathroom visit.' He was downing that coffee, yo. He had to go through a lot of cigarettes, too. No fakes, baby. He got into the groove.
IGNFF: Do you like acting and do you want to pursue it further?
RZA: I definitely want to, I mean I can't think of nobody who don't want to act. It's like a dream for a lot of people, especially someone from my history. At first, I was kinda like, because I had a few offers before I took this movie, and I was kinda like, 'Naw, naw...' When I went to the San Francisco film festival and I heard people laughing, because I never watched Coffee and Cigarettes. They gave me the tape, I watched up to my part and cut it off, because I was kinda, like, shy of it. But in the theater, people was laughing and they was looking kinda great, people was feeling it. And I caught that ego rush. I said, 'Yeah, I'm an actor.' You ask me that question right now, it's like, I'm definitely looking forward to getting on the silver screen. It definitely gave me an adrenaline boost, and I think I can handle it. I think I'll probably make my true bones behind the camera, because I'm such a visionary, you know what I mean? But I think I also could be directing and controlled to get a good performance from certain actors, especially if it's action.
IGNFF: Are you going to direct your own kung fu movie?
RZA: Yeah, yeah. I could do that easily. I've done it already, just haven't released them. I'm just waiting for the proper time to say, 'Okay, here they are.' But I've got about three films in the can that I did on my own. One is a total martial arts film where I have white hair and gold teeth. Like white hair all the way down, but gold fangs in my mouth. So I'm like a hermit, a Wu-Tang hermit, with the warrior clothes on and s**t. And I have this special weapon, it's a Wu-Tang weapon and everybody wants it so all the people are coming to get it.
IGNFF: When can we see that?
RZA: When I get enough interest in me, in that world. I think I'm almost there, though.
IGNFF: There was an article in The New York Times a few weeks back about a study that determined that digital music downloading has actually had no affect on the recording industry. How do you feel about that and what are your thoughts on downloading music?
RZA: To me digital downloading hasn't been a major problem for the music industry.
IGNFF: Do you think they are inflating the problem?
RZA: Yeah, I think they are inflating the problem... First of all, it gives them another avenue to cheat the artists and to cheat the people that are supposed to get paid and it gives them a chance to throw another surplus and also to give the government, you know how the airlines, all of the sudden the airlines say they lost money because of 9-11. And they give the airlines billions and billions of dollars, and yet the people who could use the money, like the poor people in the country, or the middle class, or the health care people, they get nothing. Who cares if the airlines are losing money when the citizens are really the ones that's suffering since 9-11? So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had.
IGNFF: So, when you have an album coming out, do you worry about seeing it online early?
RZA: Naw, when I make music, I make it to be heard, personally. And, if somebody download it, if they heard it, then my job was delivered. Of course I love to make the money. I get million dollar album budgets, so of course there's money involved with it. But, personally, as a musician, as an artist, the first thing is to be seen and heard. If you're not seen and heard, who cares? I was talking to Jim Jarmusch and he was like, somebody see his film, the guy's happy. He don't care. He wants somebody to see his art and appreciate it and that's how I feel about my music also. I never got pissed off at the Internet kids with the downloading. In fact, I told them, 'Help yourself. Have a good time.'
IGNFF: Can you talk about The Cure and when it's going to happen?
RZA: Yeah, it's an ongoing work. I keep it up, but it's definitely an ongoing work. I have it, I'll say that to you. I got it. You know what I mean? I got The Cure. It's already written, I've just got to perform it. It's something, you can't perform without living. It's very intuitive. It's like, I can't sing all that and be all that. You know how it is. If I say it and don't live it, I'll be condemning myself. And I won't do that to myself. That's one of the main reasons why The Cure hasn't been recorded is because I'm not living like the words I'm saying. I don't like to lie. Most of my music and everything I'm doing is based on something. It's not just fantasy. A lot of it is based on real life experiences or a lot of it is based on, a lot of my stuff is so real, but maybe, if you didn't experience it with me, you wouldn't even believe... But I just don't just, like, talk and s**t. I don't say, 'Yo motherf***er, I got 20 cars...' If you hear me mention a car, I got that car, you know what I'm saying? And I'm trying to describe how I feel about it.
IGNFF: When will we see the next Wu-Tang album?
RZA: It should be 2005. If it don't come 2005, I think we should let it ride. We don't do it by then, it's like, you know what, we did it already.
IGNFF: How does the rush of performing on stage compare to experiencing the audience reaction of something like Kill Bill or this movie?
RZA: The rush on stage is not only a rush, it's also a release. When I got on stage, you wouldn't even know me. See how I'm very calm. On stage, you know, I'm a monster... 'Wu-Tang clan ain't nothin' to f*** with!' I'm just kickin' the s**t, f***in' spittin', water drippin' from my mouth. I don't give a f***. That's my chance to just... My veins is poppin', I'm on it. So the stage, to me, is a release. I was tired from touring. Last year, I said, 'You know, I think I'm going to take a break from touring.' I'm getting up in front of these kids, holding my d**k and s**t... Let's cool out. I realize, if I don't do that s**t, if I don't get that energy out, I don't know what transformance [I'd have]. I was being mean to a few people I love and I said, 'You know what, I better go on tour.' You know what? I bet you hear a lot of artists tell you that it is some kind of therapeutic thing to get on stage and release that energy to people. Especially the kind of music we do. It's a very call and response kind of music. 'You motherf***ers all right?' 'Yeah!' So it's like, you can't beat that.
But as far as, you know, like I said, I never really like watching myself on the screen. This is one of my biggest adventures and one of my [best] feelings. We watched Kill Bill in Manhattan. At the premiere, that happened, but you know, that's Hollywood. But in Manhattan, a theater, just a bunch of kids coming from wherever New York, inside a movie theater and the movie's coming on. They don't even know that I'm the man with the music, and when it said, "Original Music by The RZA," we hear the audience clapping. And they didn't clap for nothing else, because the movie's just coming on. I was like, 'Wow, what the f*** is that about?' That's different. It actually might be something special. You never care who did that... Once you see who stars in the s**t, you don't read "edited," you don't read all that. You be eating your popcorn and it go right by you. But, for somebody to see that and then clap, that's a different thing right there. That felt pretty pleasing.
[i]Written by Jeff Otto (email@example.com) for IGN FilmForce