Battleship

'Battleship' Director Explains Rihanna's 'Cocky, Hot, Sexy Girl' Swagger

As Rihanna makes her silver-screen debut in Battleship, a seafaring flick about alien ships, VIBE chats with director Peter Berg about what made him pluck the pop princess for the role of a Navy gunwoman

VIBE: We sort of know, but what was it about Rihanna?
Peter Berg: I’ve always been a big fan of hers. I’d see her in her videos and was pretty taken with her intensity and charisma. I’ve been a longtime believer that musicians can make really great actors. It goes back to Frank Sinatra winning the Oscar for From Here To Eternity to a long list of actors who have made the transition, from Liza Minnelli to Kris Kristofferson to Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard. I thought she was fantastic. I worked with Tim McGraw in Friday Night Lights. I think musicians have all the ingredients to be great actors and strong performers.

I suspected Rihanna was no different. I had a couple meetings with her, and she came in my office dressed in casual jeans and a t-shirt with no makeup on and she expressed a really strong desire to be a real actress and not want any special treatment. I felt very confident for a number of reasons that she’d do a great job and she really had it. She was really good in the movie. I’m always looking for new faces; I love going to movies when you don’t know who all the actors are and you can be surprised. I’m always thinking in those terms. Frankly, I was surprised that no other director ever cast Rihanna. She seemed like such an obvious choice for someone to make the crossover.

Did she require any type of coaching?
There’s an acting coach, a woman named Susan who we all know and is legendary. It was great, because really what an acting coach can do for somebody like Rihanna is keep her focused on the set. There are so many distractions, and we were a mile out in the ocean with 400 people and sharks and dolphins and whales. It was good to have someone to kind of keep you quiet and focused. I think after working with music producers [Rihanna] just understands that kind of relationship, and it’s probably not that different from working with a record producer and director. She’d look to me for ideas, advice and inspiration and I’d throw her as many ideas as I could.

Kind of an important question: What’s the premise of Battleship?
We’ve identified what’s called a Goldilocks planet. Goldilocks planets really exist; they’re similar to the earth. They have similar relationships to their sun that we have to our sun. And in theory, these are planets that should be right for supporting life. What we actually do with these planets is we send high frequency signals out to these planets and basically say, “Hey, we’re earth, we’re here if you need us. If you’re interested, come and visit.” Steven Hawking, a very famous scientist, came out and said this was a horrible idea. If there are aliens out there, we shouldn’t be telling them where we are. We should keep quiet. If they come, they’re probably not going to be very friendly.

So in the beginning of the movie, we identify one of these Goldilocks planets, we send out a signal, and five years later we get a response in the form of five alien ships. These ships don’t come looking to fight; they’re actually relatively peaceful. They come into contact with two United States Navy ships and a Japanese ship and Rihanna is a gunner on one of those ships. She’s in charge of what’s called a “5-inch gun” which is a very powerful weapon on a ship. These weapon systems are traditionally run by men and women her age. What’s surprising is you go and meet the modern Navy and there are some very beautiful women in the Navy. They have to keep their hair cut a certain length, they’re not allowed to wear makeup and they’ve gotta wear a uniform but Rihanna fit in just perfectly with many of the Navy, especially Navy sailors we met.

Rihanna has this badass quality and looks like she has no problem holding a gun.
Yes, I mean the thing I like about her is she had no problem sliding into a physical character. She fights, she shoots, she kicks ass. I expected her to be able to do that. What I didn’t expect was there were some very subtle natural moments or her in this film. As much as there’s cocky, hot, sexy girl full of swagger, there’s also a real sweet girl in there. She’s got many gears. That’s what I find interesting about her. She can turn on other modes and be very sexy and be a badass. She can be very funny. Those are key prerequisites for good acting. You’ve gotta have a lot of different moves. And she’s got them.

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Watch Daniel Kaluuya As Fred Hampton In ‘Judas And The Black Messiah’ Trailer

Daniel Kaluuya transforms into Fred Hampton in the powerful new trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah. The nearly two-minute long clip shows Kaluyaa as the Black Panther Party leader delivering a powerful speech to a group of party members. Lakeith Stanfield, who portrays FBI informant William O’Neal, is also featured in the short teaser.

Directed by Chaka King and produced by Ryan Coogler, Judas and the Black Messiah tells the story of Hampton, who was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police in 1969, at the age of 21. Born in Chicago in 1948, Hampton mobilized a generation and became the Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the BPP. Hampton was so influential, that the FBI conspired to silence his voice. O’Neal was hired by the FBI to infiltrate the BPP, and rose up the ranks to become a sergeant in arms within the Party.

O’Neal became so close to Hampton that he provided the FBI with the floor plan to his apartment to carry out the fatal raid in 1969. He befriended Hampton only to betray him in the end. The film explores that dynamic and O’Neal’s fear that his cover will be blown.

After Hampton’s death, O’Neal went into infamy. He passed away in 1990o of a reported suicide.

Judas and the Black Messiah is slated to open next year.

Watch the trailer below.

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Keke Palmer To Host 2020 MTV VMAs, Joins ‘Proud Family’ Reboot

Booked and busy! Keke Palmer will be hosting this year’s MTV VMAs, she announced on Thursday (Aug. 6). The 26-year-old actress made the big reveal with a creative throwback to her character True Jackson.

“I heard y’all was tired of 2020, let’s go back to 2008,” Palmer captioned a video conversation featuring a split screen of herself in character as Jackson.

I heard y’all was tired of 2020, let’s go back to 2008 😩🤪🤩. Join me as I host the 2020 @vmas on August 30th on @MTV! #VMAs pic.twitter.com/cl5TcUrxnm

— Keke Palmer (@KekePalmer) August 6, 2020

Also on Thursday, Disney announced that Palmer has joined the cast of the forthcoming reboot of The Proud Family. Palmer will voice a new character named Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins. “Dreams do come true,” she happily tweeted.

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder is slated to debut on Disney+ sometime soon. Show creator/executive producer, Bruce W. Smith and executive producer, Ralph Farquhar, are back on board, as well as original cast members, Kyla Pratt, Tommy Davidson, Paula Jai Parker, and Jo Marie Payton.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ DREAMS COME TRUE! https://t.co/vgwmibrurS

— Keke Palmer (@KekePalmer) August 6, 2020

As for the 2020 VMAs, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande top the nominees' list with nine nominations, followed by The Weeknd and Billie Eilish with eight nods each.

The show airs from Brookyln's Barclay's Center on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

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Issa Rae To Produce HBO Documentary Exploring History Of Black Television

A documentary on the history of Black television is headed to HBO with Issa Rae as one of its executive producers. Seen & Heard, a two-part documentary, will explore the history of Black TV as told by those who created, and starred in groundbreaking series from the past and present, the cable network announced on Wednesday (Aug. 5).

In addition to showcasing archival material, Seen & Heard will offer up cultural commentary on Black representation in storytelling, featuring interviews with writers, showrunners, actors, celebrities and other “notable influencers.”

The participants will reflect on their personal experiences with Black representation on television, and share insights into their current creative ventures, inspiration, and experiences.

Seen & Herd will be executive produced by Rae and Montrel McKay’s Issa Rae Productions along with award-winning teams from 3 Arts Entertainment and Ark Media, including Phil Bertelsen, the latter of whom will direct and produce the film. Bertelsen's credits include the hit Netflix documentary, Who Killed Malcolm X?, Madam President, and The Legacy of Barack Obama.

“Black people have such a rich, but often unacknowledged history in Hollywood," Rae said in a statement. “We have defined American culture and influenced generations time and time again across the globe. I'm honored to pair with Ark Media to center and celebrate the achievements of those who paved a way for so many of us to tell our stories on television.”

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