Jason Mitchell will likely be called Eazy-E by fans for years to come, thanks to his bang-up job in last year’s blockbuster biopic, Straight Outta Compton. And that’s okay with the 29-year-old acting sensation who’s came straight outta Louisiana to make his mark within Hollywood.
But don’t expect to see him being the poster child for the “hood/rap” flick, even on the heels of his hilarious performance in Key & Peele’s first feature film, Keanu. In an interview with HipHopDX, Mitchell revealed that he has an extremely diverse extension to his filmography in the works.
“I’m not really tripping,” Mitchell tells HipHopDX on the notion of appearing in two back-to-back Hip Hop culture films, “because I’m all about making good product but I definitely don’t want to be typecast at all. I just did Kong: Skull Island. I just finished Barry about [President] Obama. I’m going into this film called Mudbound. And a couple other projects I can’t really disclose.”
Mitchell stars in Keanu as Bud, a loyal solider for the Blips (a marriage of the Crips and Bloods street gang for the uninitiated). The crew is lead by Cheddar (portrayed by none other than M-E-T-H-O-D Man) who isn’t above busting his gun for the guardianship of the titular feline. Although the people still want Eazy, it was actually Mitchell’s talent that actually landed him the role.
“Regardless to how it may seem, I did this movie before Compton even came out, so I had no buzz whatsoever” Mitchell explains. “They were keeping [Straight Outta Compton] under wraps so it wasn’t really helping me out. I actually went to the audition and they had like 25-30 other comics and I was like, ‘Welp, y’know, it’s been nice guys but I think I’m gonna go.’ But we ended up doing this chemistry read where it was like groups of four and Key & Peele were already in there. So we did our little improv situation and work out the kinks and they fell in love with me right there in that room.”
Days on the New Orleans set were full of laughs and nonstop comedic banter and Mitchell, who hails from the area, was appointed as the tour guide as a secondary honor.
“Jason took care of us,” Jordan Peele tells HipHopDX. “His family is wonderful as well. He showed us all the great places.”
For Mitchell, he was able to get an in-depth look on how Key & Peele was able to dominate its space on Comedy Central for so many years, as Peter Atencio was the director for the bulk of the episodes.
“Him and Jordan and Keegan, they got a bond to the point they could each other with the fucking baseball signals and just go straight into it!” Mitchell recalled on his time seeing the comedic trio in action. “They have an energy that’s wavy and it pushes off on other people. They really let you get comfortable with improv. Working with some directors, they’re like, ‘Eh, I don’t care if you change this line or not’ but Peter he’s like, ‘Just go! Go with it!’ And you find gold like that.”
Given that his performance in Keanu does meet a specific skill set, Mitchell is still down to put on for rap fans who want to see him on the big screen.
“If any Hip Hop movies slide my way, holla at the young boy,” he said with a grin.
New Line Cinema’s Keanu hits theaters this Friday, April 29. Pre-order your tickets here.