Posted Feb. 27, 2008 – There’s no doubt that Andre Benjamin, dressed in jeans, a button-down shirt underneath a vest and a sweater draped over his shoulders, is one of the top celebrity style icons of this century. He’s totally smooth. But in “Semi-Pro,” a Will Ferrell comedy set in the ‘70s about a hapless basketball team in Flint, Mich., Benjamin redefines smooth with his huge afro, bell-bottoms and platform shoes. And you know what? He still looks good!
Benjamin, who rose to fame in the music industry as one-half of Outkast, has been making his mark on the silver screen for the past few years, too. In "Semi-Pro," which hits theaters on Friday, he plays a basketball player with an ego bigger than the arena he plays in. Benjamin talked about his skills on the court, making movies and music during an exclusive interview with BET.com.
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BET: How good of a baller were you before shooting this film?
AB: Not that great. I just played neighborhood basketball, but in this I had to be the best player on the team so I said I have a lot of work to do. I thought if I can concentrate, I can look like I can do anything.
BET: How did you like wearing those shorts from back in the day?
AB: Aaaaaaaah, at first it was kind of odd. I was actually the first person to walk out in them. We had to train two or three weeks with basketball practice before we started shooting so everybody else had on normal shorts in practice. I was wearing the smaller ones so I could get used to them. I knew I didn’t want to show up the first day of work and feel self-conscious about these shorts. So I got used to them. They clowned me, so I was like good, go ahead and get that out of the way. That’s cool.
BET: What did you think of the song Will performs called Love Me Sexy?
AB: It was good. It was a good take on a ‘70s slow jam. It was like they grabbed a ‘70s record right out of the spider web. He just put it on.
BET: Could you see yourself sampling that?
AB: (Smiles) Maybe. We’d probably have to speed it up a bit.
BET: Are you a big sports fan?
AB: Yes, more football than anything—college football. I watch basketball when it gets down to the wire, you know—championships, playoffs. I don’t watch a lot of television but when football season is on, I am there. I’m actually kind of depressed right now because the season is over. Arena football just ain’t doing it.
BET: What college team do you root for?
AB: Well, I’m from Atlanta so you have to root for Georgia Tech and Georgia. But as a kid I was a Notre Dame man. I like their style of football—Notre Dame, Penn State and the old school teams. They don’t have names on their jerseys and I love it.
BET: What’s happening with your music career at this point? Are you focusing more on acting?
AB: I just started working on my solo album which should be out this fall. Big Boi (his partner in Outkast) is working on a solo project that will be out this summer. Then we will do an Outkast album after that. As far as film, I have another film coming out in April called Battle in Seattle with Woody Harrelson and Charlize Theron. It’s a drama about the riots that took place in 1999. It’s serious stuff.