Exclusive: Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs on the set of ‘Get Him To The Greek’

04.16.10 8 years ago

Universal Pictures

By the end of a long day on set for the new film “Get Him To The Greek,” one thing was apparent: everyone on the film was convinced that Sean Combs is going to be the film’s breakout comedy star.

Most of the pop culture world knows Combs by his other names, of course.  Puff Daddy.  P. Diddy.  Diddy if you’re nasty.  He’s a big personality, a huge figure in the music world, and a tremendous success story overall.  He’s carefully been building a career for himself as an actor as well, though, in films like “Made” and “Monster’s Ball,” and with an acclaimed turn onstage in “A Raisin In The Sun.”

People know Combs from his unflaggingly cheerful Twitter account (“Locked in!”) or from his appearances on MTV reality shows or even from the way he was portrayed in “Notorious,” the B.I.G. biopic, but the real Sean Combs in person comes across as soft-spoken, modest, and very serious about the craft of being very silly.  At the end of a long day of shooting, Combs sat down with HitFix for a few minutes to talk about taking this next step as an actor.

“My plan as an actor has always been to try to get close to as many talented people as I can and really just learn from them and observe.”  When asked about the improvisation that was so much a part of the morning’s shoot, he said, “This process is probably the freest acting process I”ve ever been involved in because there”s really no limitations, you know?”  That was evident from the sheer range of jokes they attempted in each scene, and the crazy places they pushed the characters.  Asked if there was anything he balked at doing or was uncomfortable with, Combs shook his head.  “No, when your whole passion is trying to make people laugh, I think you just have to be ready to do or say anything.  You can”t really have your guard up.”

Asked what experiences prepared him for jumping into this level of improvisation, he said, “The first time I walked on the set with Jon Favreau for ‘Made,’ they just threw away the script.  And improvisation and comedic timing is something that takes you a long time to really learn and then to master, you know?  I have a long way to go, but I thank God for that experience because I wasn”t intimidated.  I was a little bit freer to try things in rehearsal and to be here and to really try to play my role.  Like if I”m not good, then the guy in front of me isn”t going to be good.  I have to give my best in order to make sure that Jonah and Russell and any of the stars of the movie shine.”

One of the things that really distinguishes the films made by this particular group of comedians and writers and directors is the way they all seem perfectly happy to let someone else score the big laugh in a scene if it’s the best thing for the movie, and asked about that, Combs agreed.  “Definitely.  Jonah has given me some of the best lines in the movie.  He”s fed them to me and he hasn”t thought about, like, ‘Well, this guy”s going to get a laugh.’  He wants me to get that laugh.  It”s not about me or him.  It”s about the people in the seats.”

Even if you feel prepared, though, this kind of work is a challenge.  Asked if it’s the challenge that attracts him to working on film, Combs said, “I enjoy the challenge, sure, but my motivation isn”t really to challenge as much as it is to tell a story.  The art of storytelling to me is so fascinating, to really take people out of their world and let them tune in and tune out from the rest of the world for two hours and really live in a fantasy… that right there is magic to me, you know?  And any way I could be a part of telling that story, that”s the thing that really motivates me.  It”s not the like I”m trying to challenge myself by doing something else artistic as much as it is just the magic of telling a story.  The magic of seeing people sitting down and laughing and really believing that this is going on.”  As he talked, he became more animated, his passion for the process evident.  “You get hooked on it in a way, and it”s not the fame.  It”s different from being on stage.  That”s a whole different ego thing, you know?  This is really hooked in, like how good of a story can I tell?  How much can I really, you know, take their mind on a journey?”
Audiences will definitely join Combs on the journey when “Get Him To The Greek” opens in theaters June 4.
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You can e-mail me at drew@hitfix.com or follow me on Twitter, where I’m DrewAtHitFix.

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