The Source Magazine sat down with Academy Award nominee Djimon Hounsou to discuss his role in David E. Talbert’s “Baggage Claim.” In the film, he plays one of Paula Patton’s many love interests – a wealthy African international businessman and hotelier. Hounsou also explains why he is a fan of Kanye West and shares some of his upcoming projects including the highly anticipated Marvel film “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Q: So tell me what did you love about the script?
Well, the one thing I did like about it really is my character and the portrayal of my character given the fact that that seems to be always lost in translation as far as Africans, and people from the continent of Africa, so it was important for David at least have that element in the story that is – I did not become wealthy because he’s a ball player and so it’s kind of nice.
Q: What was it like working with Mr. Talbert?
It was great. Obviously cultivating the back story of Quinton Jamison’s story, was important and he certainly was quite receptive of the things we talked about, I was like, ‘You do need to see the portrayal of a real Africans…not that any African is not real, but what I’m saying is a problem with Africa, there are so many in Europe, it’s lost in translation as far as America is concerned because I guess we don’t know much about Africa or Africans here.
Q: You have some fun scenes with Paula on the hotel roof!
Yeah, she’s perky she’s very alive and it’s nice to work with her on sets. She’s definitely cracking jokes and all that, it’s fun, I mean it keeps the set somewhat entertaining, right?
Q: Do you have anything in common with your character besides the fact that you’re both African?
Well, besides the fact that we’re both African, also the one thing that I have in common with my character in the story is I travel a lot and I’m a man of all places, and I can dwell in the lavish life and I can live you know with the least, also. I can be basic.
Q: Can you share a fun romantic gesture you have done?
There were a lot, but one I can think of specifically that jumps at me was…I took someone on a safari and camped in the middle of lion country and elephants in Tanzania. It was exotic, it was amazing
Q: You’re from Benin, what is something you would like to highlight about your home?
Just the beach. It’s beautiful, yeah it’s gorgeous sands, beautiful white sand, and the water is turquoise water and it’s beautiful.
Q: And you’re such a well-respected actor, but you started out in modeling, so tell me about making that transition?
I wanted to act. Actually, modeling was an accident, so I would say the transition was more towards modeling than modeling towards acting. But acting was the goal and I just didn’t know better at the time, and certainly I was living in France…the industry’s a lot bigger here.
Q: Back in the day, you also appeared in several music videos. One was with Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, and Tina Turner.
Those were my early jobs actually, one of my first was actually directed by David Fincher who’s a huge big, director. “Dragon Tattoo” and an Oscar nominated director, and it was for Steve Winwood. He was a British singer and then I did Paula Abdul, and then I did Tina Turner and then did the Janet Jackson video with her…they were fun times and times that I was trying to get into the film world here.
Q: Who are your favorite hip-hop artists?
One of the songs that I actually like is Kanye West’s song…he has this quote that I always want to quote it, but you know forgive my language because that’s the language he uses in the story…”Got my Ni**as in Paris, And they going gorillas.” …That’s how I feel. I just feel like Kanye says, ‘I got my boys and the world’s going gorilla.’ One thing I just want to say about Kanye, also, is Kanye was one of the first who also did a music video and sang about the blood diamond trade, so, that’s another reason why I like him so much.
Q: You also recently screened some clips from the highly anticipated Marvel film “Guardians of the Galaxy.” What can fans expect?
Oh it’s fun and I’m very pleased and honored to be part of the Comic Con, you know the Marvel Comic world, and this was an exciting character I’m playing in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Q: And how did you get involved with “Guardians of the Galaxy”?
That’s a good question…I was called in and when I met them and talked about various characters and the director James Gunn is somebody I really like and wanted to work with and so this was a great opportunity to be part of something that I can remember, something that can be instrumental for my son.
Q: You also lend your voice to “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” Is that for your son?
Yes, oh he’s definitely going to enjoy that. Is he going to enjoy knowing that his dad is playing a bad guy and trying to kill off those dragons? I don’t know, but we’ll see, it’s going to be fun.
Q: And you also have a horror film called “The Vatican Tapes” coming out.
I just actually wrapped that. I just play a priest, 21st century priest…we combat exorcism.
Q: And what do you love about the medium of comedy, since “Baggage Claim” is a romantic comedy.
Yes, it’s wonderful to have comedy, it’s wonderful, I love comedy, I would love to have the opportunity to do more comedy, and so I like to do comedy with the A List comedians out there. It definitely is fun to be a part of a comedic film, it’s light hearted, it’s heartwarming, you really don’t have to be engaging yourself with all these dramatic emotions on a daily basis contrary to some of the stories that I did like “Blood Diamond” and so it’s nice.
Q: Is there any chance you might direct a film?
Yes, I recently read a story that made me want to direct and I’ve been, asked to direct, and this was something I did not want to do for the longest time, it’s only recently that I came upon a story that really compelled me to direct because I can see it, you know all the visual stuff, I could see all that coming before me, and I thought ‘wow, that’s interesting, well I must look at this differently’ and so yeah I had a pitch of how to direct it and they loved my mission, and so we’ll see.
Q: Any final thoughts?
Enjoy “Baggage Claim” and so many more great stories to come and this I feel like it’s almost the beginning of my career again, you know kind of like redefining myself again, so it’s cool.