Tommy Davidson on Black Dynamite
By Fred Topel | Image property of Sony Pictures
Tommy Davidson had to work fast on Black Dynamite. That was fine by him because he’s used to improvising on the fly. Director Scott Sanders and co-writer/star Michael Jai White may have gotten Davidson’s best stuff because of the pressure.
Black Dynamite's Tommy Davidson
“I got a call from him and Michael, ‘In 15 minutes, be at this apartment building because we have an idea,’ Davidson said. “I’ll do anything for Mike. I go and there’s this building off of Fountain [Ave]. I get out of the car and him and Michael are like, ‘Just come on, just come on. We’ve got a wig for you. It’s Cream Corn. What’s happening is you just did this, you did that and what he’s going to do is chase you up to the roof and we’re going to hang you off the roof.’ He knows me and he and Mike know my stuff. They just said, ‘Show us Cream Corn.’ No lines, just like here’s your character, here’s what he is in the movie and now go.”
It helped that they all speak the same language. Spoofing blaxploitation movies comes naturally. “We know that stuff so well because we grew up with these movies, so I can finish Michael’s sentences. ‘You’re gonna tell me what’s going down with the man.’ ‘I ain’t got nothin’ to do with them crackers. I’m tellin’ you right now. If you hang out at the 8 Ball, you might find this cat named TT. TT’s connected to GG and GG knows Dee Dee.’ It was one of those assimilations of all of our careers coming together off all the hard work that we’ve done over the years with different people. It just came together and the movie made itself.”
Black Dynamite was made truly independently without studio notes. Only now is an arm of Sony distributing them. “I think one of the most important reasons why Black Dynamite exists in the first place and why it’s such a huge hit is because it’s so nontouched by Hollywood studios. This company came along and just said, ‘I got a group of guys that have an idea and I’m going to let them do it. Here’s your check. Now do it.’ When that kind of stuff happens, it happened for In Living Color, Lucy Salhany plugged us in and said, ‘We have a television show but we’re going to actually let them do it their way. No studio notes, no network notes or anything. The only thing we have to do is censor just for TV but that’s it. Let them do what they do.’ We did this movie during the Christmas holiday. I never did anything like that before. We were all about to die, coming from shopping trips, wrapping presents in our trailer. It’s like something that never happens but the crew and everybody that was involved was so excited that something like this could happen, because it doesn’t happen that often where a studio isn’t touching it and you have total creative freedom. It only takes him and Michael, whoever the actor is in the scene, about 10 minutes to figure out what the scene is and we just go and shoot it.”
Davidson also weighed in on some of the more outrageous blaxploitation films that actually exist. “There was this trailer called N*gger Charlie. ‘N*gga, don’t you come around here no more. N*gger Charlie.’ That was the actual trailer. They sold the movie this way. You know who did all those was Adolf Caesar. He did all the voiceover to it. He goes, ‘When N*gga Charlie hits town, that N*gga gonna kick ass.’ Now the N word has taken on this whole thing but back then it was like a kicker. No one cared. The hippies came out of the ‘60s, the Black Power movement had happened. We came after the Vietnam War into ’70, ‘71, ’72, ’73 and the power was out of the word. You see the graphics, N*gger, N*gger, N*gger, N*gger Charlie. Now, 2009, you’re like oh my god. Then, it was so funny. Me and Michael Jai come from New York City and D.C. You can go see three blaxploitation movies in a row for like two bucks and the theater is packed. It’s a main event. We’re living our childhood out in this movie. We took everything that we grew up with and formulated and then we have some very highly skilled technicians that know how to work with nothing.”
Black Dynamite opens to theaters October 16th, 2009.
For the trailers, posters and more movie info, go to the Black Dynamite Movie Page.
Sources: Image property of Sony Pictures
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