By Fred Topel | Image property of Universal Pictures.
Most singers have to make their film debuts in music vehicles, where they play a struggling singer or someone who finds salvation in music. Alicia Keys did no such thing. She plays a lesbian hitwoman in Smokin' Aces.
Alicia Keys on Smokin' Aces
"That was obviously one of my most important things," she said. "I did not want to play a character that was a reflection of who I am. I also wanted my first film to be something where I was surrounded by an amazing cast. This fit that criteria to the fullest. I wanted to do something that was completely unexpected, totally out of the box, something that would blow people's minds, that the last thing on the planet earth that they would ever think I would do would be. This met that criteria as well. It was very exciting and it totally took me out of my element and out of my comfort zone completely and it challenged me in a way that was very rewarding for me."
As one of many assassins on the trail of Buddy "Aces" Israel, Keys participates in much of the film's bloody, explosive violence. "Our gun training was extensive to the point that my hands were cut and bleeding and it hurt very badly, but these were all things that were a part of developing Georgia to discussing with Joe [Carnahan] and Taraji [P. Henson] in a private way of what Georgia's story was, where did she come from, what her life had been like that, why did she feel that this was what she had to do and her only option, what it was that drove her to this, what was it about my relationship with men as Georgia that would make me feel these feelings? So many just deep discoveries and things that went into pulling Georgia out of my understanding of who I wanted her to be."
Many veteran actors don't go into this much depth for a character, let alone their first movie. "There was much work that went into, tremendous work that went into developing Georgia in regard to the acting and digging into her. When I was with my coach, I almost called it therapy for me because she dug things out of me as a human being where I was like, 'Wow.' But I knew that if I didn't or wasn't able to address them there in that room with her then I would never be able to address them there on that set. So that was intense work for me to do. I physically worked out tremendously. That was intense work for me to do."