If you ask just about anyone under the age of 35 about their favorite Saturday morning cartoons, chances are that Transformers will be at or near the top of the list. While it seems to have taken eons to create, the debut of the major motion picture version of the Transformers is finally here. Tyrese Gibson plays one of the lead roles in the film, and is excited to give fans an action-packed adventure that honors the animated pop culture icons.
After expanding his musical horizons with his Black Ty alter ego and his new group TGT with Tank and Ginuwine, Tyrese is taking on science fiction in the acting realm with Transformers. We spoke with Tyrese about how he works to transcend Hollywoods Black box, how hes been avoiding the nasty rumor mill, and how hes been dramatically inspired.
AllHipHop.com: How was it for you to go from films like Baby Boy and Four Brothers to doing Transformers?
Tyrese: Its all acting to me – at the end of the day the actor is me. They can change the backdrop as often as they like. It has its challenges; some people say to me, How was it with a bunch of robots that aint really there? How challenging was it? Thats not a challenge. The real challenge is trying to remember your dialogue while all of them explosions are going on. Those are all real.
AllHipHop.com: Did you do your own stunts?
Tyrese: I did all my own stunts, all but one or two.
AllHipHop.com: How much training do you have to go through to learn how to do [stunts]?
Tyrese: The stunts and all that stuff is the easy stuff, its harder to play basketball than it is to do stunts on movie sets. Not that basketball is hard to me, because its not, but its way more physically demanding [and] you can get hurt way faster on a basketball court than you could doing stunts in a movie.
AllHipHop.com: What have you done to make sure that you dont get typecast in your career?
Tyrese: From an African-American standpoint we call it the Black box. How do you get out of the Black box and be able to enjoy just the fruits of the box office? What happens is you just gotta pick the right project, and at the end of the day as an African-American it just needs to be believable that you can be on the side of someone thats not Black and is real. If youre supposed to be playing somebodys best friend in a movie, will I believe that your energy and his energy makes yall best friends?
When you saw Four Brothers and you saw it was two white dudes and two Black dudes who were all brothers, the question was like, How the hell are they all brothers? Then when you went to see the movie, you seen the synergy and the chemistry it made you believe like, Yo, I believe that they are really brothers. Its important to pick the right project and have the right energy when you go into these projects. If its a hood movie, I could do that in my sleep cause Im from the hood. All of that s**t about the hood is a comfort zone for me, anything else outside of the hood, I gotta let my instincts take the lead and try to be at my best.
AllHipHop.com: Do you have any limitations as far as any particular role that you would never do?
Tyrese: As of right now I wouldnt know which role I wouldnt do, but I can say that the timing of the roles is what Ill stay away from. Right now I wouldnt do any movies that Im singing in or rapping.
AllHipHop.com: Will Smith played a homosexual character in Six Degrees of Separation, Queen Latifah played a homosexual character [in Set It Off], but they chose those roles because it actually opened up the floodgates to take them out of that Black box that you mentioned. Do you feel like thats something you could ever do?
Tyrese: For me it all depends on what the movie is, thats what it boils down to. At the end of the day theres a lot of different kinds of gay roles, but talking about over the top flamboyant types of roles? I dont know that any film makes sense to do anything like that unless youre looking to do something thats like comedic. Ving Rhames wore a wig and put on a dress in [Holiday Heart], to go that far into a character the role just has to make sense. Im into doing what makes sense, and a lot of the times what makes sense it really equates to the timing.
AllHipHop.com: Growing up, I assume you were a Transformers fan.
Tyrese: Yeah I grew up on Transformers.
AllHipHop.com: How does it feel for you to make a movie about it, being able to talk to little kids and have them be excited because now youre kind of a superhero guy?
Tyrese: Its real crazy. This movie is so big – I cant believe I got the second lead in it. I just took my little brother to go see it last night. You just realize how big it is to see your little brothers eyes light up like that over something that youre doing.
AllHipHop.com: You are one of the few actors who has been able to make the transition from being known as a singer first. How does it feel for you to be able to play both sides of the fence and get respected for it?
Tyrese: I think that the respect lies within the man or the woman. Theres a lot of people that put out rap albums that they dont get respect for – its a lot of singers that dont have the respect and a lot of actors that dont get the respect that theyre due. Im blessed that not only do I act, but people have a great deal of respect for my acting because I take it very serious. You can run around town telling everybody, Hey, I take this acting very serious! and then when they see you on film they dont care. It boils down to the person.
AllHipHop.com: If you could go back in time and put yourself in any role in any film ever, what would it be and why?
Tyrese: I would have loved to have done some extra work in Shawshank Redemption as well as the movie Hurricane. Denzel Washington is the reason I decided to act, so I look at that and say if I would have had a chance to be in either one of those films that would have been great for me just to be on the set and experience what real acting is.
AllHipHop.com: Thats interesting. Most people weve asked that question to say Scarface.
Tyrese: Yeah, everybody loves that movie, thats a classic. That movie did something for me, but it didnt do nothing for me on the level that them other movies did, because there wasnt no big shootouts and explosions that made you enjoy the movie. Most people that connect to that movie is from the streets just like me, but it does something else for them. I look at the straight acting, Denzel Washington in the whole by himself, and how he can keep my attention when youre performing all by yourself nobody else in the scene with you, no fireworks and explosives – just you in the whole by yourself in prison. How can you keep my attention? I learn from that, and Im inspired by just that.
AllHipHop.com: Ten years from now, where would you be with your career if you could have everything you wanted?
Tyrese: I want to be able to say in 10 years that I work as I please. I think at the end of the day were all inspired to make money and be able to provide for our families and the whole thing, but what if all the money you could imagine and everything you could ever want in life is there? Now what are you motivated by? Passion, thats what I think I look forward to. I dont even care that a check is attached to it, I just want the opportunity.
AllHipHop.com: Thats what people will remember you for – the good roles and impactful things that youve done over the years.
Tyrese: Its etched in history, God forbid anything ever happens to me my work is still gonna be here appreciated and for the most part people will be able to say, Man, he really spread his wings. He came from the bottom and really got out there. My mission right now is, I know Im giving a lot of people hope. Even if youve done five or six movies, youre looking at the kind of movies that Im doing and youre probably like, Man, Ive done way more movies than him but look at the movies that hes in. Im gonna stay hopeful that Im able to come across something this great, because Transformers is about to change the world, Im telling you.
AllHipHop.com: What else do you want people to know about this film? Any websites or anything you want them to take a look at?
Tyrese: Most of the stuff floating around the internet is s**t that most people dont need to be reading. [laughs] Its a bunch of jibber-jabber floating around, its crazy. People just need to know this – I was made for this s**t. I love it and as long as I can protect my family from things that are being said and done, then bring it on. I love it, Im built for this s**t. I come from the bottom, I come from the streets and all of these are considered high-class problems to me whatever they may be. Im blessed that I have the tolerance level that I got for whatever may be said or done that might not be necessarily good. I love it and I just love that people still believed in me.
Its been a lot of singers that have came and went, none of the people had any reasons other than believing in me to do any collaborations with Black Ty, but they believed in me. As far as these movies, Im just gonna take em as they come and do my best to stay in it. I love when I run into people thats like 50-years-old and they shake my hand for a long time and say, Youre my favorite actor. Im like, Wow – it just happened today at the gas station. When you get older you really tell the truth, you dont run around with the song and the dance stroking nobodys ego. You tell it like it is.
Yall be looking out for TGT, my R&B group [with Ginuwine and Tank], we gone really pop it off with the Shirts Off tour in December. We gonna go international first, and then come to the U.S. afterwards. We got a lot of fans overseas who have never seen us get down, ever. We all kind of go through the same cities often, Atlanta, Texas, traveling throughout the states. But overseas they dont never get us, so we gonna go over there and break em in and then come back here to the U.S.