Fresh off the phenomenal success of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," which was the #2 movie at the box office in 2009 (behind "Avatar"), Tyrese is back with another apocalyptic sci-fi adventure. "Legion," however, is a horror flick with a rather novel, religious premise revolving around a struggle to survive the wrath of a vengeful God who has lost faith in humanity.
Kam Williams: Hey, Tyrese, thanks for the time. You had quite a year with "Transformers 2." How does it feel riding that wave?
Tyrese: Honestly, everybody that's in my life will tell you that I enjoy the highs of life, but I'm always that guy with the big fan in his hand trying to clear the smoke out right away in order to get back to the mission, back to the focus. It's not that I don't like to marinate in the blessings, because I do. But I'm very ambitious, very motivated to reach beyond what I've already mastered. I never get complacent. I'm not the type to relax and just kick my feet up as if I've made it. I'm always looking to go to the next level. "Transformers" has literally changed my life in so many different ways. I'm known around the world now, because so many men, women and children have seen the film at some point. What a blessing that is. And now that I have that international stage, I'm all about maximizing and taking it to another level.
KW: Last summer, you also released your own comic book, "Mayhem." How is that doing?
T: Oh, man, it's doing beyond well. It's selling like crazy. You know it's available on iTunes in 38 countries now. I've partnered up with Apple and it's being sold digitally. Basically, I have a digital comic book. I did the voiceover for all of Mayhem's parts, and hired a bunch of other actors to do the other characters. And when you see a car crash in the comic, you can actually hear it. So, it's like you're watching a still yet motion comic.
KW: When I interviewed you last summer, you said that you would personally call anybody who purchased 25 copies of Mayhem. I guess it's too late for fans to take advantage of that offer.
T: No, not at all. If somebody's going to invest that much to support something you're passionate about, you're supposed to call them with a personal thank you. I had that going over at the store, Meltdown Comics. I'm going to give you the number: 323-851-7283. I'll get that going again right now, if you're willing to put it out there.
KW: I definitely will. Let's talk about "Legion." It looks intriguing and intense!
T: Yeah, "Legion" is a real, heavy thriller with spiritual and religious overtones.
KW: Yeah, it poses a very intriguing question: What would happen if God lost faith in humanity? And judging by the trailer, it looks like you and the other leads serve sort of like the three wise men, as you try to protect this pregnant waitress [Adrianne Malicki] carrying the Christ child from an army off angels dispatched by God.
T: It's us trying to protect her from all these forces on a mission to stop her from giving birth.
KW: Did you have any reservations about signing on, given that Scott Stewart was a first-time director?
T: No, he had lots of experience working with A-list directors, because he owns the special effects company called Orphanage.
KW: How'd you get along with the rest of the cast, like Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Charles S. Dutton and Lucas Black?
T: It was fun times, man. Paul Bettany is a really, really talented guy. That was my second film with Dennis Quaid, and my first time with Charles Dutton.
KW: Was making this movie at all transformational for you?
T: I never read that deeply into it, because my faith is so etched in stone that I don't allow images or situations to shake it. I just showed up to do my part.
KW: In so many horror flicks, a brother is the first person to die. Is that the case this time?
T: No. But honestly, a Black man always being the first to die makes sense to me because it's hard to convince an audience that a Black guy would trip and fall while being chased. Black folks would react totally differently than Whites do to horror movie scenarios. You know what I mean? Rather than hang around some secluded place where people are getting picked off one-by-one, we'd be going, "I'm outta here!" That's Black folks' instinct. We don't run towards a problem, we run away from it.
KW: Laz Lyles would like to know, if you're planning on doing another album soon?
KW: Laz also asks, how do you feel about Mayhem as an entry into an exclusive canon of Black superheroes?
T: You know what? I never really thought of it as a Black thing. I just wanted to create a superhero. He is Black, an African American, but I really only wanted to develop a great character. So, that became my motivation.
KW: Larry Greenberg says you have made a stunning transition from model to singer songwriter to action hero. Do you think you might run for Governor of California someday?
T: No way. I appreciate politics, but it's definitely not for me. Arnold Schwarzenegger could never do another film.
KW: If you could have three wishes immediately granted, what would they be for?
T: I'm a mogul. That's who I am. That's who I was destined to be. I have so many ideas and so much more to accomplish. I've been on my share of private planes and inside elaborate mansions. And I've been around some very successful people. But I don't get complacent. I realize that this is not my plane or my mansion. I'm not materialistically driven, but I do understand the dynamics of there being more out there to achieve, to reach for and accomplish. So, one of my wishes would be to allow the rest of the world to experience these thoughts and these ideas that I have which I think would impact the world. Another wish would be for more leading man roles.
KW: You proved that you could handle a lead role a long time ago when you did "Baby Boy."
T: I appreciate that.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
T: I see ambition, focus, hunger, determination, passion, integrity and humility. I see a father and a man of substance. I see a man that's spiritually grounded. And I see a man who just won't settle, because there's so much more to do.
KW: The Flex Alexander question: How do you get through the tough times?
T: Prayer is powerful, of course. But it's also about your surroundings. Your surroundings help you get through tough times so much faster than being alone.
Your surroundings are everything.
KW: The Mike Pittman question: Who was your best friend as a child?
T: A friend of mine named Timothy Jackson.
KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Will Africa affect American culture in the 21st Century?
T: Africa has already had a big impact on American culture long before now. We recognize the struggle, the racism, the discrimination, the pain, the sacrifice, slavery. And honestly, I feel that we work in conjunction with Africa on so many different levels. We love Africa.
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
T: Right now, I'm reading this book by James Patterson called "I, Alex Cross."
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What are you listening to on your iPod?
T: R. Kelly's new album, "Untitled." I have a song on there with him. The album is so crazy, so ridiculous. I've just been listening to that, man.
KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
T: I don't know exactly who I'm talking to, but let me just say that your surroundings can create a better reality for your life. You can often tell how far your life and career will go by the five people you spend the most time with. If you have a problem with your life, you should have a problem with the people in your life. Change your surroundings, and you'll change your life.
KW: Thanks again, Tyrese, and best of luck with Legion, Mayhem and your many other ventures.
T: Okay, bro, I appreciate it.
To see Tyrese in the Coca-Cola commercial that made him famous, visit:
To see a trailer for Legion, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejJvnZm7UOY