Slaine’s Next Number
INTERVIEW: The Boston rap champ on his next moves and upcoming movies
By Chris Faraone
Originally published in the Boston Phoenix (December 2012)
It’s been two years since Slaine drove the getaway car in Ben Affleck’s Boston heist flick The Town. Since then, the Southie-Roslindale native has solidified his stature in the rap game with an epic cinematic solo album, A World with No Skies, and with the second full-length installment from his group with Ill Bill, La Coka Nostra. This week, Slaine returns to the big screen as a bumbling street hooligan in Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, which features Brad Pitt and is based on the novel Cogan’s Trade by legendary Boston crime writer George V. Higgins. We asked him about playing dumb, and finally letting go of Affleck’s coattails.
This is your first movie that’s not with Ben Affleck. Is that a big deal? I actually think there was an offer for Ben to be in the movie, and when I found out that he wasn’t in it, I was like, “Oh — good!” He’s been great to me, but the perception is that I went to school with Ben Affleck or something — or that I have some information on him so he keeps giving me all of these movie roles.
How did you get this part? I did the audition in LA, and I was on paper [reading directly from the script]. My agent called me yelling, “What the fuck? You didn’t memorize the lines?” I’ve never memorized lines for an audition before, but I got it.
What’s your character like? I play a semi-retarded hit man named Kenny Gill. He’s just one of a whole bunch of dudes who are interconnected through this criminal underworld of losers. You never really see the mob — it’s about the shitheads and the lowlives who are underneath them.
Have you been typecast at this point? I think all of the characters I’ve played are a little different — even though they’re all criminals. This one is mentally handicapped. I didn’t know that when I read the script, but [Dominik] called me and said, “I want you to be really stupid.” I didn’t think much about it until I got to the set in New Orleans, and I gave them a lisp when the camera started rolling. Everyone started laughing, and Dominik told me to keep it.
I see you got to throw Ray Liotta through a window. Were you nervous about that? With Gone, Baby, Gone and The Town, I shot in Boston, where I feel comfortable. In New Orleans, I thought I would be nervous, but I wasn’t until Ray Liotta came to the set and started breaking my balls. I’m usually good at comebacks, but my tongue was stuck in the back of my throat.
What’s next for you? I’d like to do comedy — I’d like to play a young Archie Bunker, or a funny Babe Ruth. I feel like the door is open for me with this acting stuff. When The Town came out, my music was just getting to a place where I’d worked my whole career to do it — touring in Europe and things like that — so I didn’t want to slow down at that point. Now it’s time for me to give acting the proper attention. I’ve only done 10 auditions in my entire life — I need to do 10 auditions a month. I’m as good at acting now as I was at rapping when I was 18; there’s a lot of shit I’ve never done before. I’ve become a much better MC over the years. There’s no reason I can’t do the same thing as an actor.