Born in Brooklyn and raised in South Jamaica, Queens, Edwin Freeman plays The Finisher Mister Cee – legendary DJ and confidant to Notorious B.I.G. – in the upcoming Notorious film. Freeman has starred in the independent film Da Mission, as well as made appearances in the films Inside Man and My Super Ex Girlfriend. As the world anticipates this long-awaited film, Edwin Freeman gives some insight on landing his role and the importance of Mister Cee in the life of Biggie.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: How did you land the role of Mister Cee?
Edwin Freeman: I got a call from my agent who told me about the audition. When I arrived for the audition I came with the mind state that I was Mister Cee, I read for the casting director and went home. I got a phone call about a week later notifying me that I had been selected for the part. I met with my acting coach the following week and began to study Calvin Laburn the person. I wanted to show the world Calvin the human, instead of Mister Cee the Hip-Hop legend.
AHHA: How were you able to identify with the character of Mister Cee?
Edwin Freeman: When I was in Junior High School me and my friends used to save our money to buy records and throw house parties on the weekend. So I knew a bit about DJing prior to taking on the role of Mister Cee. Being the big fan of Hip-Hop that I am, I grew up listening to Big Daddy Kane and I also listen to [Mister Cee] on the radio.
AHHA: Were you able to work with Mister Cee in order to help portray him accurately in the film?
Edwin Freeman: Prior to filming I didnt have the honor of meeting Mister Cee, but what I did was watch videos of him when he used to DJ for Big Daddy Kane back in the days so that I could learn his mannerisms, how he walked, how he held his head, his posture and I also listened to him everyday on Hot 97 to learn his tone of voice. Being that I didnt meet him before we started shooting, I had to use those other resources.
Biggie Mister Cee Freestyle
AHHA: Did taking on the role help you learn more about the inner workings of the music industry?
Edwin Freeman: Taking on the role gave me a behind the scenes view of what it takes for an artist to go from unsigned to being signed to a major label and the work thats involved in making that transition. Most fans just get the glitz and glamour side of the story. Rarely do we get to see the grit and grind and what it takes to make it to the top. With Notorious, fans will finally get to see the journey.
AHHA: Was it at any point intimidating portraying a person who is still alive and active?
Edwin Freeman: One of the biggest challenges of portraying a person who is still alive and active is making sure you capture the very essence of their existence. You have to make sure your portrayal is authentic. Thats where your work as an actor comes in. You dont want to miss your mark.
AHHA: What do you think it was that Mister Cee saw in Biggie that was special, and unique?
Edwin Freeman: At the time that Mister Cee discovered Biggie he was the DJ for the hottest rapper out [Big Daddy Kane]. So when he heard him rapping, he was blown away. It was like the second coming of Big Daddy Kane; thats what caught Mister Cees attention. Even as a local neighborhood rapper, Biggie had great potential.
AHHA: In what ways do you feel Mister Cee helped mold Biggie into the rap icon that he eventually became?
Edwin Freeman: Mister Cee introduced Biggie to the business side of the game. Although all of Biggies friends knew that he was talented, Mister Cee was the first one who really got him to see that if he was willing to put in the necessary work, he could make a living rapping. Their relationship wasnt just a manager-artist situation; it was an older brother, younger brother situation as well. Mister Cee took Biggie under his wing. He had his best interest at heart.
AHHA: What is your most memorable experience from working on the film?
Edwin Freeman: My most memorable experience was arriving on set each day and transforming into Mister Cee and seeing the other actors, Derek Luke, Jamal Woolard, Marc John Jefferies, Dennis L.A. White and Kevin Phillips get into character as well. We each really embodied the characters that we were portraying. That was a very fun and memorable experience.
AHHA: If Biggie was alive today what advice do you think he would give to his fans?
Edwin Freeman: If Biggie was alive today, I think that he would tell his fans to stay positive, work hard and to maximize the time that they spend on earth. Biggie was a big dreamer and a hard worker. He came from one of the worst neighborhoods in New York City, and he still worked hard to make something of himself. Unfortunately, he was killed at the tender age of 24, because I believe that if he had lived longer he would have contributed so much more to the world; although his legacy is tremendous.
AHHA: What can we expect from you in the future?
Edwin Freeman: Some more films, television shows, writing and eventually producing my own projects. This is just the beginning; Im just getting warmed up!
Biggie Mister Cee Freestyle