Exclusive: Keri Hilson Talks Starring in ‘Riddick’ And Her New Album

Keri Hilson stars in "Riddick." (Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures)
Keri Hilson stars in "Riddick." (Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Keri Hilson stars in “Riddick.” (Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

The Source Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Keri Hilson about her role in Vin Diesel’s film “Riddick,” out today.

Q: First off, how did you get involved with ‘Riddick’?

Hilson: Well, I auditioned for a role, a different role; the role of Dahl. And they went with Katee Sackhoff; I’m super excited they did. However, Vin Diesel and David Twohy loved my audition and…it came down to me and Katee and they didn’t want to lose me in the film and they wrote me into the script. So the character that you saw was written specifically for me and that was really cool because Vin Diesel told me that he was written into his very first film; I think it was ‘Saving Private Ryan’. And that’s how he got his big break, so it’s really sentimental…I appreciate it that much more because of the way it happened and I’m very excited to be a part of the film.

Q: There was a lot of back story with your role. Was there anything that you and Davis discussed about your character and the story that went with it?

Hilson: I hate being a spoiler for people who might not have seen it, yet. But yes there is backstory. I come from a completely different world. In sci-fi, there are many different, I don’t know if you call them planets, worlds. But they feel like different planets. They have different properties, different wildlife, I guess you could say. Unique creatures and things like that. Unique climates and things like that. So I come from a different world…I’m sorry I’m trying to be clear and vague at the same time. I’m a prisoner of sorts. There’s a reason that I’m a female prisoner and maybe people will pick up on why and maybe they won’t. So…yeah! I just happened to be on the ship of a super a**hole played by Jordi Mollà.

Q: How was it working with David?

Hilson: David was super. He knows what he wants and, as long as he’s getting that, he’s very laid back. I think most of his concerns in this film or his interest was in making sure that the footage was conducive to whatever he had to do in post because there was so much special effect, green screen, CGI. I would love to meet whoever had to do all the CGI stuff because it was incredible…it was incredible. Having been there and watched some of the scenes and seeing how they played out in the actual film. I gotta give it up, I gotta give it up.

Q:  We agree, we were blown away.

Hilson: In a movie you don’t really know where it’s started but I hope they show behind the scenes. Actually, one of my throwback Thursdays on instagram today and twitter will be from the movie, but I don’t think it’s going to be very telling in that regard but I mean seeing the world, the way it was then and the way it was now…it makes me appreciate the movie and sci-fi movies in general even more. That much more.

Q: What was it about the script that you loved?

Hilson: There’s nothing normal about sci-fi. Anything that makes no sense, makes every bit of sense in these sci-fi films, so I love that. You have these hogs that are like jet skis over land. (If they ever invent that I want one by the way.) But…the descriptions were so vivid even though they’re not in our dimension at all. They’re not in our real world at all. So it just felt like an escape. But then you have characters who have real stories who are driven away from their homes, prisoners, and fighting for something. They all have real, very relatable stories. Spiritual…you know there’s so many aspects to them as real people. So just that whole dichotomy was really interesting to me, having been my first sci-fi film to act in and one of the first franchises I’ve ever watched; one of the first sci-fi series I’ve ever watched from ‘Pitch Black’ on.

Q: How was it being on set with such a talented cast and crew?

Hilson: Just from Nolan Funk to Katee Sackhoff to Bokeem Woodbine to Jordi Mollà…the cast was incredible. I met them prior to working and I had no idea someone so normal could transform into something so mysterious and so spectacular. They’re very, very, very talented people. I was just super excited to be among them, even for just my week…the week I was there in Montreal. And Vin is every bit of a genius, he may or may not appear to be. I learned so much about him and the way he operates even behind the scenes. He’s nothing short of a genius. Great person, though. He’s become a mentor and I’m really appreciative of him for that.

Q: What are you most excited for people to see in this movie?

Hilson: There’s so much. I’m most excited for people who may not have been sci-fi fans. I feel like, to me, this was the first series that opens up to non-sci-fi fans, non-traditional sci-fi lovers, which I now consider myself. I hope that my fan base and some of the actors’ fan bases who may not have ever done sci-fi before will be kind of turned on to this world. That’s what I’m hoping for. I didn’t expect it to have funny moments, I didn’t expect it to be relatable in a human way. I’m most interested to see how people who don’t watch sci-fi typically kind of gravitate towards the film.

Q: You have a successful music career and now you’re jumping a bit into acting. What made you want to start acting?

Hilson: I grew up doing theater and musical theater. I was a theater major in college. It’s always been something that I always wanted to do in the right time. I’m not the person who kind of forces their way into anything. I wait for the proper timing and I think it’s the proper timing right now. So I’m going to do more of it. When the opportunity came I felt ready to do that. Express myself in a different art form. Although music is still number one, acting is something I do take very seriously in that every opportunity where I can learn and grow by surrounding myself in a world that I’m not comfortable in I jump at that opportunity. I take every chance to do that. It’s good for me.

Q: Has the transition been difficult going from music to acting?

Hilson: There are challenges because in music I’m writing about my story, I’m writing about my life. In acting I really have to find the similarities with myself and a character that is so different from me and I have to be that, I have to become her. That, I think, is a bit difficult. She was nothing like me, but I definitely had to become her and find ways to connect. In music I don’t have to do that. I am the character, I am the writer, I am the person living what I’m singing and you can tell that. My music feels real because it is real. I wanted this character to feel real and I think I did a pretty good job of connecting.

Q: Do you have any films lined up in the future?

Hilson: Not lined up at the moment. It’s all about getting my album finished. I’m in Virginia at the moment on speakerphone in my hotel waking up to get back to work with Timbaland for a few weeks to really wrap it up and finish strong. So at the moment, no, but it’s definitely in my wants for the future. It’s something I will continue to do.

Q: Going to your album, can you talk a little bit about it?

Hilson: A little bit, yes. I mean there’s not much to say. I don’t like to say things to early and be held to those things. We may deviate from whatever it is I say. But I will say that I’m going to get Timbaland’s best, I’m gonna get Polow Da Don’s best, and I’m gonna give it my best and I’m liking what we’re doing so far. I’m really excited. I’m in a really good place and I’m saying a lot of things I’ve needed to express for a very long time.

Q: What can fans expect from the album?

Hilson: Fans can expect honesty. I think my fans will really be pleased with this album. You hear growth, you hear a widening of my spectrum sonically in a good way, and still in an honest and soulful manner – not soulful what you think of soul music but I mean honesty. So you know, truthful is what I mean by soul and authentic. I think my fans will be really pleased, I really do. If they’re not, I love it. It’s enough for me, that’s why I do it. [Laughs] If everyone hates it that’s still fine cause I’m loving it and that’s what it’s all about. It’s about getting out what’s on my heart, my chest, what’s happening in my life. But I do always hope that it touches others, but my primary concern is that it’s in honesty good work.

-Joshua Kaye

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