Don Cheadle has opened up about his latest onscreen role as Kendrick Lamar's interrogator on his video for 'DNA'. It seems learning all those lyrics was super-daunting, and he didn't even realise the rapper had made a reference to one of his films until a few days after.
Don Cheadle at 'The Promise' premiere
The 'House of Lies' star played a cop interrogating Kendrick for the new video for 'DNA' - from his new album 'Damn' - and in it he had to rap the majority of the song. He says he only had two days to prepare for the video, which included learning most of the lyrics because they weren't going to have a teleprompter.
'I was like, 'Uh OK, you know you're like the best rapper in the world, so what are you talking about',' he recalled in an interview with Pitchfork. 'So I crammed like we have to do as actors.'
It didn't turn out to be as easy as learning lines for a movie though. 'It's tricky, because it's not a linear process. His thought process is not linear', he said. 'As a human being, he's pretty normal and straight ahead, but when you listen to his rhymes, he's constructing ideas in ways that are not immediately understandable... So it's tricky to memorize because it's so specific to the way he thinks.'
Don was so busy trying to remember his lines for the video that he didn't even notice a reference to his 2001 movie 'Rush Hour 2' in the shoot. 'I didn't even know that I was the Kung Fu Kenny model. I didn't know that until the next day', he confessed, in reference to Kendrick's outfit on set. 'He texted me like, 'Dude are you serious? You didn't know that?' I totally forgot about that. I've been working too long, I didn't even remember that.'
A lot of the shoot was improvised, however, including the moment where Don asks Kendrick what 'DNA' stands for. 'I said, 'OK, well this would be a pretty f**ked up thing to say'', he said. 'So I just improv'd all the dialogue, everything I said.'
Kendrick Lamar performs at Coachella
As it turns out, Don and Kendrick were previously friends before the video. They had been introduced by Dr. Dre and Don wanted to use Kendrick in some kind of movie project, though the latter was reluctant. 'He didn't feel like that was his lane and said he wasn't ready', Don explains. 'I really appreciated that, because a lot of people are like, 'Yeah, I'll do it', just because they want that shine.'
Still, the two remained firm friends and it was Kendrick who brought Don on board for an acting project first! Though the latter admits he has no plans to embark on a rapping career.