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Brandon T. Jackson: The Funny Man’s Thunder

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Going from stand up comedy to movies is not every funny man’s forte, but budding actor Brandon T. Jackson is making a new page for himself in the book of Hollywood success stories. Jackson got it in as an extra in movies like Ali and 8 Mile before landing his breakout role in 2005’s teen favorite Roll Bounce. In 2008, he’s co-starring alongside Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and Ben Stiller in the highly-touted comedy Tropic Thunder, and with Wilmer Valderrama in the gang-themed drama Days of Wrath.It’s not easy being popular, but Brandon is more than ready for the spotlight. We grabbed a few moments of his time to discuss what it was like working with Robert Downey Jr.’s character (who plays in the movie in blackface), his career growth and new ventures. AllHipHop.com: Tropic Thunder is a very anticipated movie. When you first started your career did you ever envision getting to this point where you’d be working with these types of people? Brandon T. Jackson: Yeah, but at the same time you always pray for it and then when it happens it’s definitely breathtaking. I can’t say yeah with that much confidence, but I can say yes to the belief that anything is possible. It’s definitely a great experience. AllHipHop.com: You went from doing stand-up and bit parts in movies to having your own show and working with Wayne Brady and other comedic actors. What have you learned throughout your career, and what have been some of the highlights as far as learning experiences? Brandon T. Jackson: When I did Roll Bounce with Bow Wow, that was my first big movie. I learned so much in that movie about how movies were made and different things. That was the first movie I had ever done, and to go from that to [Tropic Thunder] is just definitely one of those experiences that you could learn from and breathtaking, I just learned so much on the set from Robert Downey and just being there. Each step was a learning experience. AllHipHop.com: In terms of going on the road on a comedy tour versus being on a movie set, which do you like better and what do you enjoy about each experience? Brandon T. Jackson: It’s like two legs, I like both of my legs. If a rapper does an album he’s gonna go on the road, and if he does movies he’ll do movies. I really love the feeling when I’m doing movies, but then when I’m doing movies I’m missing stand up, so it’s kind of like I enjoy both situations. AllHipHop.com: With the previews and movie posters for Tropic Thunder, a lot of people saw Robert Downey Jr. was going to be playing a character who was playing a character who is essentially in blackface. Going into the movie did you have any qualms or worries that were put to rest once you got in the situation? Brandon T. Jackson: Yeah, because he did it so good. Now if he was doing like C. Thomas Howell in Soul Man then we all would have all went to hell. He did it so good to the point where my mom got to the set and she thought [Downey] was Don Cheadle. AllHipHop.com: I saw you on The Jimmy Kimmel Show and you were saying that Robert Downey Jr. never got out of character. Were there any funny moments with that where you weren’t acting and he did something crazy?Brandon T. Jackson: We drunk Kool-Aid together, had Kanye West marathons and I took him to my family’s barbecue and we went to vote for Barack Obama together in the polls. I’m just playing, but it would be cool if we did. [laughs]AllHipHop.com: In Tropic Thunder there are a lot of action scenes. Did you do any of your own stunts?Brandon T. Jackson: I did most of them, my stuntman Kofi did a lot of them too, but I really did most of them. There was so much more in there that got cut out with the action because the movie would have been way too long.AllHipHop.com: The special effects look very impressive. Were you amazed with how it actually turned out with the finished product?Brandon T. Jackson: I was very impressed with a comedy that had this much action. Ben Stiller pulled off some Steven Spielberg type of stuff – he’s like the comedy Spielberg.AllHipHop.com: Going from a gangster type movie [Days of Wrath] to a comedy role to a serious type of role, how do you prepare and how do you feel it rounds you out as an actor?Brandon T. Jackson: Look at Will Smith’s career, he doesn’t do one thing. He can do drama and comedy and I want to do both sides. The way I prepare is to just psych my mind out the old fashioned way, where if I was to do something like become a race car driver that’s all I would be and I’d become one. I just brainwash myself into becoming one, so you just stay focused and learn what they do like you’re doing a report. You learn everything, get all your references and learn how to do it.AllHipHop.com: What’s coming up next for you?Brandon T. Jackson: I have some scripts that I’m chasing right now, I just got off a Coca-Cola tour with Lupe Fiasco. I did a movie called Rogue’s Gallery that I just finished, and I’m pretty much just being smart about my next decision as far as movies. But I’m definitely always doing stand up.

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