Hawkins gives us a picture of what filming in Compton and working with Dr. Dre was like.
The N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton is a great film and one that you should not miss out on. Above all of the great things that could be said about this movie, the actors are the best. Corey Hawkins is proof of this. He gave a stellar performance in the film, and with several big projects coming up, you will get to see him again and again. We got a chance to discuss his character, the movie, and the future.
Check out our exclusive interview below:
How did you prepare for the role? Did you meet with Dr. Dre and how did he help with the role?
Corey Hawkins: He was just so super heavily involved in it all. He was there from day one. We had dinner the first time, sat down, and I think the playoffs were on and we were just kicking it, and didn’t talk about the movie at all and from then on he said you’re the man for the job, so don’t worry about anything else, take all the noise out your head and just get in their and capture what N.W.A represented. It was no easy task for sure, but huge shout out to F. Gary Gray because he gave me all the tools that I needed. Him and Dre. They were there every single day on set, with me, with Gary, with Jason, with Shea, with Neil, with Aldis. Everybody was there. Cube too. It was funny because Cube was working on Ride Along and we had all met before too, during the movie. He was working on Ride Along, and one day I heard his voice on set and I was like oh man! Why didn’t nobody tell me Cube was here! You know what I mean? Y’all got to give me a little warning or something, and I turn around and it’s just his face Skyping in and somebody’s like carrying around a computer, and he’s like sup man! It was great. Every opportunity they took to be there and to make sure that this story is told and done right. Dre has become a huge mentor, from me being able to watch him do his thing in the studio, I mean how often do you get to say that I can dip over to Dre’s studio and just watch him work, watch a master work. Man, and he is a master at what he does. He had a tough time growing up. Everybody had their issues in the film, in terms dealing with Compton and growing up in Compton and dealing with police brutality and dealing with the sort of political backlash and all of that stuff but I think that Dre, he’s just a complex guy. He’s not in the public eye a lot, so a lot of it was getting in there and having those conversations, hours of talking to him and his wife and his family and his friends and just being completely 100 with this, and completely transparent with this movie.
Do you relate to the character?
Hawkins: I mean listen, Dre’s a perfectionist. I’m a perfectionist. He doesn’t do something unless he knows he can be great at it. He doesn’t just waste his time with anything. He knew that this was going to be special. I knew that this was going to be special. I was nervous to take on the role because of that. I didn’t want to be the one to mess up Dr. Dre’s Legacy. I mean this is the guy around the time they were casting, the Beats deal was happening, and so, his name was everywhere. So I’m like, I don’t look like him, I don’t sound like him, I don’t this and that, but he said no, you had a hell of an audition. I remember he had my audition tape on his cell phone, you know what I mean? It’s just one of those things where it’s sort of once in a lifetime. We both grew up in a single family household. We both aim to sort of take care of those around us. I grew up with a single mother who, same as him. Same sort of storyline in the film about wanting to get out and branch out and do my own thing and it sort of parallels everything. All of us, you know, me, Jason, Shea, Aldis, and Neil, we all sort of had those parallels to the character and I think it’s a testament to our casting director Cindy Tolan and Vicky Thomas because they really just gave us everything we needed.
Filming in Compton added a real visceral dose of reality, right?
Hawkins: Yea, I mean obviously, you know you’re there. It was like one of those things where like you could just feel it and you feel it when you’re watching the film. You hear it, you smell it, you taste it, it’s like a sensory overload of just, the streets of Compton. Then it’s also, you fell the oppression, you feel them being stifled by the F.B.I. These young kids who were teenagers, taking on the government, taking on the world, taking on the institution. They were bold.
What’s one of your favorite things about being an actor?
Hawkins: Just being able to tell stories man, because that’s what they were trying to do. They were trying to tell stories and I just love jumping into different characters and finding the complexities. With this role, it was really about pulling back, cause really, I’m a very private guy just like Dre. I’m a very reserved kind of guy and I’m very particular about certain things, and I just want it to be right, you know, so for me, the craft is just about being able to give voices to certain people who you don’t or might not know that side of the story. I want to humanize people. I want to do stuff that’s fun to me. I want to do stuff that I’m passionate about and the fame and everything, that comes later and always sort of secondary to me. I live in New York, and my face is like plastered all over the subway, and on Times Square, and on billboards … I’m not anywhere near, you know, I’m not that recognizable, you know? I think this is just a blessing to be able to do this … Sometimes you can become a name and that’s all you do. I just want to continue to do things that vary, because I went to Juilliard man. I want to go back and do some more Shakespeare. I want to go back and do some more off-Broadway stuff. I want to do some more Broadway stuff, you know, just continue to shake it up and just have fun doing it.
So what do you have coming up next?
Hawkins: Next I’m on the Walking Dead, sort of joining in the fray for this new season. Obviously I can’t go into details about it. Someone might come out of the closet and just like, shut me up. It’s a really great character. It’s a really cool and fun role from the comic books. It’s a kind of iconic character from the comic books. He’s a smart guy, he’s educated, he’s witty, he’s athletic, and he’s just great and I love that character. I also have a film, a pretty big and awesome project that I’m about to start working on in the fall, and I can’t really say anything on that either, right now. I think they’re going to announce it pretty soon, but as of right now, it’s pretty cool.
The film hits theaters on August 14.