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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'The Chi' Recap: Ep. 3 Shows The Effects Of Childhoods Being Stolen By Adults

A child can die and still grow up. A child can die from growing up. In The Chi, where humanity is hustled and children face their mortality, childhood is a luxury few are lucky enough to keep let alone enjoy. Adults traffic in stolen youths, trading in childhoods that never belonged to them. Some use them to make their lives easier, others use them to advance their careers, but they all snatch away the childhoods of young black boys and girls in order for them to navigate adulthood better.

On the insidious side, Ronnie’s lawyer Kimberly Hendricks (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) uses Kevin’s youth to both intimidate and discredit the only eye witness to Ronnie’s murder of Coogie Johnson in Season One. She orchestrates this by employing a white man with a purported history of dealing with black youths testifying in court to tell Kevin’s family about the untold dangers that can arise from his testimony against Ronnie in the courthouse. All the while, Hendricks sits nearby surveying the scene of her own making, knowing the preservation of Kevin’s precious youth would be his mothers’ first thoughts when hearing of these “consequences” and force them to not have Kevin testify.

Not too long after that, Hendricks calls into question the validity of the 12-year-old eyewitness account, since she claims the accounts of adults are typically unreliable and Kevin having experienced trauma from shooting Ronnie makes his account even more shaky. Soon after, we find out Hendricks’ motive for using Kevin’s young age to get a murderer out of jail is not based in some warped view of justice, but instead in her desire to advance her own law career by making partner at her law firm.

The Chi drives home the severity of what Hendricks’ actions could do to the future of a child like Kevin. Before Kevin and his family are intimidated by Hendricks’ flunkie in the courthouse, Kevin mentions how some of his knowledge of the criminal justice system comes from long-running TV drama Law & Order. Mere seconds later, a young black boy, who looks no older than Kevin, is escorted in handcuffs by police officers while wearing grey prison garbs. This idea of adults snatching away black boys’ youth through the legal system is an all too common reality in a city such as Chicago, where judges go against local ordinances banning the detention of children under 12 years of age at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

Beyond Chicago, adults within the American legal system have had transactional relationships with black youths. Between 2000-2007, judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania received financial compensation from the owners of juvenile detention centers for filling their detention centers with young offenders through excessive sentencing for minor infractions. The ordeal is referred to as the “kids for cash” scandal, a title that could easily be the name of an episode of The Chi.

But, just like in episode two, where Jerrika appeared to sell out of her blackness for the advancement of her career, nothing is ever clearly good or bad in The Chi. In one of the more heartbreaking scenes in the early part of the season, Kevin discovers his classmate Maisha (Genesis Denise Hale) hasn’t been coming to school because she has to watch her siblings while her mother works. Her mother is robbing her daughter of a traditional childhood by having her assume parental roles over her siblings versus focusing on school. As Kevin sits in her living room surrounded by her siblings and their toys, Maisha’s usual calm but condescending demeanor is replaced with irritable fatigue. You can see her face struggle to contort into a smile when joking with Kevin.

Neither Maisha nor Kevin make any mention of Maisha’s father, so it’s safe to assume she lives in a one-parent household, like more than 11 million other American households, according to 2016 Census data. Of those more than 11 million households, more than 80 percent of them are headed by mothers. Those same mothers have to spend upwards of 70 percent of their annual income on child care. Without Maisha sacrificing a piece of her childhood, her siblings may not have one of their own.

When Maisha somberly asks Kevin if she’ll see him tomorrow after school—she’d asked him to bring her each day’s homework—the look in her eyes is one crying out for a connection to her peers’ leisurely, carefree lives. That’s what people see when they look at him: the purity of childhood. It’s the reason why Jake wouldn’t let Kevin be part of his illegal candy resale scheme in episode two. So much of The Chi involves making sure this one black boy doesn’t get swallowed by the streets.

Despondent themes aside, the episode is not without its silver lining. There is a humorous side to children growing up too quickly in The Chi. Papa, Kevin’s best friend and the most mature kid in the show, participates in the school’s candy drive in order to win a flat screen TV for his man cave. But instead of a “man cave,” he calls it a “Papa cave.” Humorous displays of otherwise depressing topics, such as black youths growing up much faster than they should, gives The Chi’s commentary a bit more realism, showing that there’s good in the bad, and vice versa.

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Streeter Lecka

DMX Joins Cast Of Upcoming Film 'Chronicle Of A Serial Killer'

DMX has some major deals lined up. The artist has reportedly signed on to join the cast of an upcoming thriller film, entitled Chronicle of a Serial Killer, according to HotNewHipHop.

The film reportedly follows the story of Henry Brolin, a serial killer who targets women who he thinks will eventually turn out just like his mother. DMX will reportedly portray one of the lead detectives on the case. X joins a cast featuring Tara Reid and Russian Doll's Brendan Sexton.

Steve Stanulis, the film's director said DMX was a "perfect fit" for the role. "When my casting director suggested DMX it immediately resonated with me as a perfect fit," Stanulis said. "I have no doubt he is going bring a different dynamic to the role and I'm excited to have him part of this talented cast. I'm looking forward to working with him and everyone else this summer."

According to previous reports, the new gig is just one of many opportunities that X has in the works. He's also rumored to be working on a several other box office films and a new album.

Chronical of a Serial Killer will reportedly begin filming in New York City in June 2019. It's unclear when it will hit the box office at this time. Stay tuned for more details.

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Beyoncé performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella

Homecoming: The 5 Best Moments Of Beyoncé’s Documentary

Once Beyoncé became the first African-American woman to headline in its nearly 20-year history, we knew Coachella would never the same. To mark the superstar’s historic moment, the 2018 music and arts festival was appropriately dubbed #Beychella and fans went into a frenzy on social media as her illustrious performance was live-streamed by thousands. (Remember when fans recreated her choreographed number to O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad”?)

With a legion of dancers, singers and musicians adorned with gorgeous costumes showcasing custom-made crests, the singer’s whirlwind performance honored black Greek letter organizations, Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and paid homage to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Aside from the essence of black musical subgenres like Houston’s chopped and screwed and Washington D.C.’s go-go music, the entertainer performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Black National Anthem,” and implemented a dancehall number, sampling the legendary Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, to show off the versatility of black culture.

One year after #Beychella’s historic set, the insightful concert film, Homecoming, began streaming on Netflix and unveiled the rigorous months of planning that went into the iconic event. The 2-hour 17-minute documentary highlights Beyoncé’s enviable work ethic and dedication to her craft, proving why this performance will be cemented in popular culture forever. Here are the best moments from Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary.

The Intentional Blackness

“Instead of me bringing out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.”

Throughout the documentary, Beyoncé made it known that everything and everyone included in the creative process leading up to the annual festival was deliberately chosen. “I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid,” says Beyoncé. “Every tiny detail had an intention.” When speaking on black people as a collective the entertainer notes, “The swag is limitless.” Perhaps the most beautiful moments in Homecoming are the shots that focus on the uniqueness of black hair and its versatility. What’s appreciated above all is the singer’s commitment to celebrating the various facets of blackness and detailing why black culture needs to be celebrated on a global scale.

Beyoncé’s Love And Respect For HBCUs

#Beychella — which spanned two consecutive weekends of Coachella’s annual festival — was inspired by elements of HBCU homecomings, so it was no surprise when the singer revealed she always wanted to attend one. “I grew up in Houston, Texas visiting Prairie View. We rehearsed at TSU [Texas Southern University] for many years in Third Ward, and I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher.” Brief vignettes in the film showcased marching bands, drumlines and the majorettes from notable HBCUs that comprise of the black homecoming experience. In the concert flick, one of the dancers affectionately states, “Homecoming for an HBCU is the Super Bowl. It is the Coachella.” However, beyond the outfits that sport a direct resemblance to Greek organizations, Beyoncé communicated an important message that remains a focal point in the film: “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”

The Familiar Faces

Despite being joined by hundreds of dancers, musicians and singers on-stage, the entertainer was joined by some familiar faces to share the monumental moment with her. While making a minor appearance in the documentary, her husband and rapper/mogul Jay-Z came out to perform “Deja Vu” with his wife. Next, fans were blessed by the best trio to ever do it as Kelly and Michelle joined the singer with renditions of their hit singles including “Say My Name,” “Soldier,” and more. On top of this star-studded list, Solange Knowles graced the “Beychella” stage and playfully danced with her older sister to the infectious “Get Me Bodied.”

Her Balance Of Being A Mother And A Star

Originally slated to headline the annual festival in 2017, the singer notes that she “got pregnant unexpectedly...and it ended up being twins.” Suffering from preeclampsia, high blood pressure, toxemia and undergoing an emergency C-section, the entertainer candidly details how difficult it was adjusting post-partum and how she had to reconnect with her body after experiencing a traumatizing delivery. “In the beginning, it was so many muscle spasms. Just, internally, my body was not connected. My body was not there.” Rehearsing for a total of 8 months, the singer sacrificed quality time with her children in order to nail the technical elements that came with the preparation for her Coachella set. “I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol … and I’m hungry.” Somehow, throughout all of this, she still had to be a mom. “My mind wanted to be with my children,” she says. Perhaps one of the most admirable moments in the film was witnessing Beyoncé’s dedication to her family but also to her craft.

The Wise Words From Black Visionaries

Homecoming opens with a quote from the late, Maya Angelou stating, “If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.” The film includes rich and prophetic quotes from the likes of Alice Walker, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and notable Black thinkers, reaffirming Beyoncé’s decision to highlight black culture. The quotes speak to her womanhood and the entertainer’s undeniable strength as a black woman.

Blue Ivy’s Cuteness

Last, but certainly not least, Blue Ivy‘s appearance in the concert film is nothing short of precious. One of the special moments in the documentary zeroes in on the 7-year-old singing to a group of people whilst Beyoncé sweetly feeds the lyrics into her ears. After finishing, Blue says: “I wanna do that again” with Beyoncé replying with “You wanna be like mommy, huh?” Seen throughout Homecoming rehearsing and mirroring Beyoncé’s moves, Blue just might follow in her mother’s footsteps as she gets older.

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