Notorious B.I.G. is considered the best rapper to ever pick up a mic and a legend at his craft, now his son C.J. Wallace is ready to become a legend in the movie business.
In just his second movie, C.J. Wallace stars next to Will Ferrell in “Everything Must Go.” Written and directed by Dan Rush, the movie is about a man who hits rock bottom and befriends a young boy, named Kenny, played by Wallace, who helps him get on with his life.
We sat down with C.J. and found out what he has to say about following in his father’s footsteps, his dreams about directing and starring in his own movie and his feelings on Tyler, the Creator. Read on for more about one of the most interesting kids we know!
Global Grind: We saw you in the “Notorious,” now you’re in “Everything Must Go,” how did you discover the film and what made you want to audition?
C.J. Wallace: I didn’t discover it. Dan [Rush] called my dad and told me to come in and read and I read, and then he told me we’d keep in touch. Then he called my dad again and told him that I’d be reading with Will this time. That kind of let me know that I did pretty good the first time. After that, a couple weeks later, he called me after school and told me he wanted me to be his Kenny. I was really excited.
What did you think of your character Kenny?
He was the total opposite of me. He was a real loner, didn’t have any friends, his mom was never around him. He only has a sister. Yeah, he’s just not what I would do. I saw it as a challenge to see if I could be able to be the loner kid, the one without friends.
So was your approach different this time around, compared to your last movie?
Yeah, it was totally different. I didn’t really have an acting coach this time. But yeah, when I had to act like I didn’t know how to play baseball ― because I play baseball and football but I had to act like I didn’t. Yeah, it was pretty hard. It was a good experience though.
What was it like reading with Will Ferrell, were you intimidated?
The first time I thought I was going to start laughing randomly because he’s so funny. Because when he’s serious, he’s still really funny. It was hard for me not to laugh at him, but he’s a good guy though.
Did you and Will Ferrell get to know each other before you started shooting?
Not really, just that time when we read together. That was all the time that we really had to hang out. But while we were shooting off set we would sometimes hang out.
We spoke to Will about your first day on set, he said he was so impressed with you because you’re such a natural and they really needed to find a young kid that they didn’t need to keep coaching. So what do you say to that?
That makes me feel good. Coming from Will Ferrell, it’s definitely a good accomplishment. I didn’t know that.
How much fun was it on set?
On set was really cool, it was really funny, because even though it was supposed to be a drama, every part where it was just me and Will, when we had dialogue, it was always funny because we had such a great vibe together. It didn’t even seem like we were filming, it seemed like we were actually just talking one on one. But it was always fun.
The relationship between your and Will’s character is probably the most important in the film. How do you describe their relationship and what do they end up meaning to each other?
Their relationship is really weird, because Kenny sees the relationship as a chance to get a friend and Will just thinks this kid can help him sell his stuff. They become friends selling the stuff because they both love doing it and obviously they’re good at it. Yeah, it’s definitely the best relationship in the whole movie.
We see a lot of child actors following in their father’s footsteps. Can you imagine yourself going into the hip-hop world?
Not right now. Musically, the only thing I do is joke around with my brother on Garage Band. I’m not taking music very seriously, this is a little important than that right now.
You are focusing on acting?
Yeah and definitely school, because if I didn’t do well in school, I wouldn’t be able to do this.
Can you see yourself acting for a long time? Is that what you want to do with your career?
Definitely. I can see myself doing this a little bit more, definitely over rapping.
What kind of musical influences do you have? Were you listening to anything on set?
Not really on set. Actually, I would just listen to Drake because that was the time his album first came out. So I would just be on my computer looking for ways to hear anything he had. So one of my favorite guys to listen to was Drake.
You said that it was good that director Dan Rush didn’t treat you like a kid.
Exactly, he made me feel a lot more mature than the age I was then. So that was definitely important dealing with a kid who actually was an adult. Because Kenny was on his own, he didn’t have anyone to treat him like a kid, so he had to act like an adult, hanging around with drunk old guys like Will (‘s character).
Have you seen the film?
I haven’t seen the film. Everybody kept saying I did so great.
So when will you finally get to see it, are you waiting for the premiere?
Either the premiere if I go. I honestly just want to go see it with all my friends to get the actual experience of it. Because I was just going to go with a bunch of people and buy out the whole theater.
What’s it like seeing yourself on screen?
It’s very weird. It’s different. At first, I wasn’t really into the acting thing so it’s definitely something I need to get used to, but it’s cool.
Did you really want to act when you were approached for “Notorious”?
I didn’t actually. But my grandma actually told me to do it, she said I should do it because it’s your dad or whatever. And at first I was like, ‘Why?’ I just thought it would be like, ‘Oh, Biggie’s son is playing Biggie.’ But I ended up really getting into it. I found out things I didn’t know about him and it was really cool.
Did that film give you the acting bug?
Yeah, being in Brooklyn and just doing all the different things that my dad did, especially after things were going on in Arizona, really got me excited about the acting life.
Did it give you an insight into your father?
A little. His was a little different. Being on stage was a little different from being on screen.
Do you think people will be surprised by Will in this film?
Oh yeah. I was surprised by Will. Yeah, to be acting like that, against what he normally is. That’s pretty cool.
Do you see any particular message from the film?
Friendships are really strange. They can be with 13-year-old black kid who has no friends and a 40-year-old drunk who just divorced and they can be over just one simple common interest. It’s crazy. That’s pretty special.
There’s a lot of films coming out this summer. Are you looking forward to any specific film?
I’m really looking forward to seeing “The Hangover 2.” Not many things I’m really looking forward to besides “Hangover 2.”
You like comedies?
Yeah, I love comedies and biographies. Those are pretty good.
What are you listening to at the moment? Still Drake?
Drake, Lil’ Wayne, Jay-Z, Kanye West and I’ve started to listen to Tyler, the Creator. He’s really different and hard to understand, but I know where he’s coming from and he’s pretty cool.
Do you see yourself going to college?
Do you want to study acting?
I want to study film. I like directing and taking pictures and all that.
So we could see you directing one day?
Yeah, definitely, hopefully doing both and starring in my own movie.