Wall Street Journal: What attracted you to this film?
Method Man: It was the arc that my character has…I wanted to see the transition from being this cold, dead man to being this warm, caring man that’s loving life…I also could not relate to this character at all, so I was up for the challenge.
There seem to be two types of men in the mortician’s fictional city. The type who are terrifyingly aggressive and the type who mentally shut down, like he does.
Yeah, my character, the mortician, had emotions but he didn’t want to show them at all. It’s like being in a kennel with a bunch of pit bulls. If they smell fear they’ll attack you.
Do you see yourself an actor? A rapper? Both?
I’m an entertainer, so in whatever form I entertain…The thing about being a rapper is that you have more control over your form, whereas with acting you have to compromise a lot. You can’t go in there with the same mentality of “I’m a f—— star. This is all about me.” No, it’s not about you! You start stripping those layers away and becoming whatever that character is supposed to be and identifying with it.
Are there more people faking authenticity or being arrogant in hip hop now than when it first started?
There are genuine artists out there who love what they do and do it with a purpose, but then you have those dudes who are a bunch of fashonistas…These kids are more concerned with the way they look than what’s coming out of their mouths…Back when I first came out if you told a kid “I’m an MC,” the first thing the kid would say to you is, “Oh yeah, well say a rhyme for me.” …Nowadays, you tell the kid you’re an MC and he’s like “Oh yeah, where’s your big chain at? Where’s your watch? Where’s your car? That’s what it is now. …The majority of the people who listen to the music can’t afford half that s—.
You were the only guest artist on Notorious B.I.G.’s debut album. What was it like working with him and what did you think of the 2009 biopic “Notorious?”
I didn’t watch the biopic because I don’t like death at all. Big was a close friend of mine, I had a lot of fun with him working on the album…[when we started working] my name was coming up as well as his name, so it was a no-brainer that I would come and ask him or he would come and ask me.
What was he like in real life?
He was hilarious, man. Once when we went inside this airport [in North Carolina]. There was a lady at the security gate and Big went through and “beep beep beep” and he’s telling the lady, “Look, I got a bullet in me, so the machine’s gonna keep going off. Why don’t you pat me down?” And she was like “No just keep going through the machine.” And he kept going through and through…I just thought that was f—- hilarious…After a while you’d forget he was fat or had those googly-eyes, you’d just see a funny motherf—– …I think Big would have been big on screen.
This film focuses on America’s urban decay. Do you think that’s a problem, either where you’re from or in general?
There was a span where factories were closing, small businesses were shutting down, all the jobs were going overseas and the effect that it had, I mean, big business, they could care less. Layoffs are just big business to them. But the people who are getting laid off…They have to go home to their families and say “I don’t have the rent for next month.” Who cares about these people? …I’ve heard talk, but I haven’t heard results. When I go to my old neighborhood (Park Hills, Staten Island) it’s still f—ed up.