Pass The Popcorn: John Ridley Speaks On Directing 'Jimi: All Is By My Side'
John Ridley–the Academy Award winner best known for penning the scripts to 12 Years A Slave and Three Kings— waxes with William Goss of Rolling Stone about his latest piece Jimi:All Is By My Side (aka the Jimi Hendrix biopic.) John lets loose on his experience directing–as opposed to writing– a film on such an emblematic artist, what it was like to work with Andre 3000 and why he chose to focus the film on such a specific point in the artist’s career, as the film takes place in the year or two leading up to Jimi’s unveiling at the Monterey Pop Festival (a gig tossed to him by Paul McCartney after seeing him cover “Sgt. Peppers” at the Saville Theatre.) Below you can find some of the most compelling excerpts from the interview, but you can catch the whole thing over at RS. Jimi:All Is By My Side premieres this week at SXSW.
On the timeframe of the film:
“We wanted to be objective in our storytelling, but there’s such connectivity and there’s a lot of emotion going on there. For me, it’s kind of like how I loveSid & Nancy, even though I don’t love punk music. That story wasn’t about the artifacts. It wasn’t just about the music, or the jackets and the pins. It’s about the connectivity between Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb, and that’s the thing with this. Jimi is a legend and an icon; there will always be those touchstones. But beyond that, if an audience cannot connect with him as a person and a character in terms of humanity, then we might as well go to a museum and just walk part his guitar and his suit, because that’s kind of what you’re doing. It’s just a pass-by.”
On demystifying Jimi:
“I tell people it’s kind of like Che Guevara; you have kids that walk around with Che T-shirts, but they don’t know anything about his politics or his circumstances. They don’t know about him. I think that happens a lot with Jimi. Obviously, he’s a rock icon for a reason. The hair and the bandana and smashing the guitar or riding in on “Fire” — that’s part of his story. But the reality is that’s not nearly all of who he was.”
On the choice of Andre 3000 for the role:
“I’ll say this: I was blessed, because I got a musician who can act and an actor who could play. André is just a unique talent, and part of that talent that you see also came from a lot of hard work. The first time I met him, he had a curiosity about the world that was equal to what I believe Jimi’s curiosity about music and the world was at that time in his life. He’s got the physicality, he’s got the emotional curiosity, he’s got the charisma — so to a degree, he’s already there.”