Interview by Mark Walters

 If you grew up in the 1970's like myself, you most likely remember the greatness of Roller Skating.  There was a time when every kid worth their salt was doing it.  The new movie ROLL BOUNCE revisits that era, delivering a heartwarming story of a teenage boy, living with a uncaring widowed father, pursuing the one thing he really loves.  The lead is play by Bow Wow, formerly Li'l Bow Wow.  Forget the kid films you've seen him in before.  This is a career-making performance for the young singer turned actor.  Chances are he's moving on to big things after this.  I had a chance to sit down with Bow Wow and discuss the making of the new film.  He just finished a tour before we talked...

BOW WOW: I just wrapped up on the Scream tour, September 4th was the last show.  Everything is real organized.  It's the first time I've ever done something where everything has been in sync.  I went on tour first.  It's like a domino effect.  So when I come off tour, went right into this movie.  After this, I go right into another movie.  The next year will be here before we know it.  Next movie I'm going to be working on will actually be going from this year into next year, so I'm working hard.  They got me out here, just everywhere.

How was is doing all that skating?

BOW WOW: The skating was kind of easy, because I knew how to skate prior to the film.  Being that I'm from the Midwest, we used to always skate every Saturday and Sunday in Ohio.  So I really just had to bring my skills back to life.  Ever since I started traveling I didn't have time to go to the skating rinks anymore, so I kind of lost my step.  But when I got back in the mix, and put my skates on, and rolled around the rink a couple of times for a couple of hours, I got my swagger back.  So I was ready to go ahead and do my thing.  If I had to go percentage wise, I'd say I did about 89% of the skating.  So a majority of the skating is me.  Even though I had a double, and sometimes I'd walk on the set when they were shooting my double, I'd be like "Man, I can do exactly what he's doing."  I would go in there and I would do it.  That was something I really wanted to do.  I felt that if it was going to be authentic, I wanted to do it myself.  That's how I've always been.  I've been a "I want to do it myself" type of dude, I've always got to learn the hard way.  We wanted to make it really authentic in the movie.  That was the thing I was concerned with.  They wanted to make it as real as possible, and I was all up for it.

MARK: Yeah, when I was a kid I used to go to the roller rink all the time.  This movie took me back.  It really was like taking a trip back in time.  You guys were so authentic with detail and everything.

BOW WOW: Appreciate it.

MARK: How much research did you do, and how many different people did you talk to make sure you got that just right?

BOW WOW: I did a lot of research.  I watched a lot of movies and a lot of television shows.  I watched things like GOOD TIMES and movies like COOLEY HIGH, THE JEFFERSONS, you know just trying to get the swagger.  You know to understand exactly what this time period was really about.  I've heard a lot about the seventies, supposed to be one of the coolest, funkiest times ever.  So I really wanted to relive it.  I had to become it, to live in this timeframe.  It was crazy, cause I was watching the posture, the words, how they would say certain things, the accent.  And we had to mix it with Chicago accents as well, since we were supposed to be from the Southside.  We had to really try to make it real, that was the main concern.  How real can we possibly make this, and if so will that really reach out and grab the audience and bring them back in time with us.  I always play around with a lot of acting, so that was nothing for me to say some of the things I said in the movie, or move my hands a certain way.  It was all in fun.  I think that was the main thing that really drew me into the film, that is was something different, and something I haven't done yet.  That's something the fans really haven't seen me do yet, is to really act.  This movie definitely displays that.  On top of that to do something different with everything.  From the seventies slang, to how I hold my hands, to how I walk,  everything.  From the clothes, to the hair, to the whole nines.  It was just fun.  I had a lot of fun just going back in time and reliving those moments.

Was it hard getting used to the music?

BOW WOW: The music was easy.  I listen to a lot of old school music, and that was nothing I hadn't heard already.  The slang and all that, was quite simple as well.  Just mocking people, I can do that.  (laughs)

MARK: You get a chance to go to some dark dramatic places in this movie, like in the scene where you and your dad are confronting one another with his car.  How was it getting a chance to go that direction with your acting, and do you want to do more of that?

BOW WOW: Oh yeah definitely.  You know, you get more credit that way.  And when I did this movie I couldn't wait to see how that turned out, because I know when people see it they're going to think "Man, that boy stepped it up!"  That was something I found interesting as well.  It was something I haven't done in a movie.  I haven't cried in a movie, or done a lot of these things that I'm actually doing in this film.  And I felt that it would help me in my career, and a lot of other things.  You know a lot of opportunities would open up if I do things like this.  And this was first time I'm done something like this.  It was just crazy for me.  It was awkward and weird for me, being that this is my first time doing a scene like this.  I'd never really done any touchy scenes like this before.  I had a lot of fun doing it, and I just really had to take it there.  I gave this movie all I had, and I was trying to live this character.  I wasn't trying to be like "Okay, now I gotta wake up and go to the set, and cry today."  I took my soul out of myself and I actually put my soul inside this kid.  I wanted to live this kid, I wanted understand his pain, I wanted to understand how it would feel to not have a mother around, but have a father around and a little sister.  And for my father not to really love me the way I want him to love me, and just support me as a son.  Once I understood it, I knew all the rest was history.  I knew once it got down for me to do those scenes, I'd know.  And I did it.  That was one of those scenes I was ready to do it and get done with it.  I didn't want to stand it much longer.

MARK: Was it one of those things where you took yourself to a dark place, and you wanted to get this out of the way so you could get back to the fun?

BOW WOW: Oh yeah, definitely.  We only ended up doing that scene about four times.  And after the fourth time that was it.  After the fourth time we left it alone.

MARK: It was probably very draining.

BOW WOW: It is, and on top of that, it takes you somewhere else, man.  Acting will just take you to a whole other world, and that's what that is.  We found, me and Chi, found ourselves saying some crazy things to each other in that garage scene.  The cameras just keep rolling, and you're so into it.  He's yelling at me and I'm yelling back at him, and he's cursing me out and I'm cursing him out.  It's real, it comes off to be real.  It's one of those movie things where you don't want to stay on things like that for a long time, or keep setting up shots to shoot scenes from different camera angles.  It's just so touchy you know?  I remember that day everybody on the set just crying.  Even the scene before the garage scene where I throw the skates down at the front door, that was kind of heavy too.

Talking about his off-screen friendship his on-screen buddies.

BOW WOW: A lot of my cast mates, this was their first movie.  I think they thought I might be arrogant or cocky, and not want to hang out with them.  I wasn't like that.  When I got into town, I just took care of business.  I'm here for business, I don't want to make any friends.  I just wanted to do what I came to Chicago to do for these three months, which is to make a movie.  But just me being there for three months with the guys, and just mingling with some people around my age, it was fun.  And actually Khleo Thomas who plays Mixed Mike, the kid we always say is the "white boy" in the movie, I actually took him on tour with me.  He was on the Scream Four tour with me, he's also a rapper.  So me and him bonded the closest out of everybody.  To this day that's like my right hand man there.  I'll probably be doing a lot of big things with him in the future.  I really like him, he's got a big strong head on him, and he's good at what he does too.  He's from HOLES, he played in that.


BOW WOW: Yeah, WALKING TALL.  He's got a long career ahead of him too.  And he's only 16 years old.


Find out more about ROLL BOUNCE HERE.



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