BLACK VOICES

'Texas Chainsaw 3D': Trey Songz Opens Up On His Hollywood Debut

By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES, Jan.2 (Reuters) - R&B and hip-hop artists have appeared in horror films before, but 28-year old singer Trey Songz tackles a brand new incarnation of the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" franchise with "Texas Chainsaw 3D."

The film, which opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, follows a young woman who inherits a lavish, isolated mansion. When she visits it for the first time with her three friends, one of whom is played by Songz, they realize there is horror awaiting them in the basement.

Songz, a Grammy-nominated artist with hits like "Say Aah," "Can't Be Friends" and "Bottoms Up," took a break from his world tour to talk to Reuters about his first movie role as a lead actor.

Q: Is acting something you've had your eye on?

A: "It's something I've always wanted to do, but music comes first. I wanted to make sure when I did choose a role, I had time to really get in to it. (Director) John (Luessenhop) came to the studio to meet me for the first time and I told him to give me 24 hours to figure it out. I had just come off tour, I was recording an album and the four weeks I was set to have for vacation would be the four weeks I'd be shooting the film."

Q: What did you think about during that 24-hour period?

A: "Making sure I wouldn't be carrying the weight of the film. My name means so much in the music world that I was worried I'd have to carry the film, but I think the franchise carries the weight of the film. Luckily, (my character) Ryan is a likeable guy. There wasn't too much stress on me mentally and it didn't take too much away from me as a person in order to be him ... I couldn't ask for a better stepping-stone as a first-time actor."

Q: You've stated that you are the first black actor in the "Texas Chainsaw" franchise. What does that mean to you?

A: "I think it means something not only to me, but to the franchise. Ryan was originally envisioned as a white male. The fact that the studio, the producers and the director went out on a limb and put a black man in such a strong part in a classic movie first made in the 70s, when things were so different, speaks volumes too."

Q: Your single "Heart Attack," off your fifth and current album "Chapter V," was nominated for a best R&B song Grammy, making it your third nomination. What would a win mean?

A: "Right now I feel like I'm in the Grammy club, but not in the V.I.P. I'm just looking at the V.I.P. going, 'I got to drink. I want a bottle, just let me in the V.I.P. please!' But all jokes aside, the Grammy is the most elite award you can win as a musician so it would mean so much."

Q: You moved around a lot as child, partly because you had a stepfather who worked in the military and partly because of your mother's work opportunities. What was that like?

A: "When you're a young, single mother, you're dependent on welfare. Your mother is struggling and we would move around a lot - Virginia, Florida, Kansas, New Jersey, Baltimore ... I went to eight different schools before ninth grade."

Q: How does that impact you today?

A: "I've never really been settled. I don't think I've ever known what it was like to be a person that was used to sitting still. I think it's given me the ability to detach from any situation. It's so easy to remove myself from the closest of situations just because I've had to do it my whole life."

Q: Do you ever want to know what it feels like to be settled?

A: "I do. I don't know when it will happen. I don't even know how to. When I sit still for a couple of days, I get fidgety. I don't know what I'm supposed to do."

Q: I suppose acting is another way to keep yourself from sitting still. Will there be more acting in store for you?

A: "I've set a goal for myself to land a couple of films a year. Recently, I shot a movie starring Paula Patton entitled 'Baggage Claim." It's an urban film where I get to be comedic as well as sexy."

Q: Comedic and sexy - it's great that you see yourself that way. What confidence!

A: Some things just are what they are! (Reporting by Zorianna Kit; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Jackie Frank)

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BEFORE YOU GO

  • 36 Duane Jones in "Night of the Living Dead," 1968
  • 35 William Marshall in "Blacula," 1972
  • 34 Miguel Nuñez in "Friday the 13th: A New Beginning," 1985
  • 33 Grace Jones in "Vamp," 1986
  • 32 Mario Van Peebles and Melvin Van Peebles in "Jaws: The Revenge," 1987
  • 31 Tony Todd in "Candyman," 1992
  • 30 Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett in "Vampire in Brooklyn," 1995
  • 29 Jada Pinkett Smith in "Demon Knight," 1995
  • 28 Corbin Bernsen in "Tales from the Hood," 1995
  • 27 Forest Whitaker in "Species," 1995
  • 26 Laurence Fishburne in "Event Horizon," 1997
  • 25 Charles S. Dutton in "Mimic," 1997
  • 24 Jada Pinkett Smith, Omar Epps and Duane Martin in "Scream 2," 1997
  • 23 Morgan Freeman in "Seven," 1997
  • 22 Ice Cube in "Anaconda," 1997
  • 21 LL Cool J in "Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later," 1998
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  • 20 Brandy Norwood in "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer," 1998
  • 19 Usher Raymond in "The Faculty," 1998
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  • 10 Sanaa Lathan in "Alien vs. Predator," 2004
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  • 9 Mekhi Phifer and Ving Rhames in "Dawn of the Dead," 2004
  • 8 Danny Glover in "Saw," 2004
  • 7 Morris Chestnut in "The Cave," 2005
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