Don Cheadle: 'Working with Kendrick Lamar was intimidating'

20th Apr 17 | Entertainment News

Don Cheadle found it "intimidating" working with Kendrick Lamar on his DNA music video.

Opening of Audemars Piguet Rodeo Drive

In the video, the 52-year-old actor plays an investigator who aggressively lip-syncs the track back and forth with Lamar and despite his Hollywood career, Cheadle struggled to memorise the intense lyrics.

"It's tricky with Kendrick because the complexities of how his thoughts work. It's very poetic, and it's not linear, necessarily," he explained to Entertainment Weekly. "As an actor in a scene, you know what you're playing, you know what the other actor is saying... so to make the connection also while I'm looking at him, saying his rhymes to him - that was a little intimidating."

Most of their scenes in the video were completely improvised, and the Iron Man 3 star was so impressed with Lamar's acting talent that he has promised to help him launch a career in Hollywood.

"All that back and forth we were doing was just completely improv. Between takes, I said (to Lamar), 'Dude, this is where it's at. You can do this. I'm going to cast you in something, and you're going to have to say yes.' He was like, 'All right, all right. I'm just trying to figure out if I can be an actor.' I'm like, 'I'm going to cast you in the right thing, I'll protect you, but I need you to come do something.' He owes me one," he joked.

Cheadle's casting in the video may seem unusual, but it all has to do with the nickname Kung Fu Kenny. The Compton rapper mentions the name several times in tracks on his new album DAMN., and his Coachella headline set last weekend (15-16Apr17) even opened with a kung fu style short film.

The actor revealed the Kung Fu Kenny reference is to his small role as a character called Kenny in the 2001 sequel Rush Hour 2, starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.

However, he only understood the reference when a fan pointed it out on Twitter after Lamar's Coachella set. "I was like, wait a minute. So I texted him. I said, 'Is Kung Fu Kenny me?' He's like, 'That's what the surprise was. Damn.' I was like, 'Oh, I didn't get it at all.' He's like, 'Yeah that's what the surprise was, so... surprise'," Cheadle laughed.

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