RZA: On Quentin Tarantino, the Future of Wu-Tang Clan and Why Lucy Liu Kicks A—
How did the game of chess reflect what you created with the Wu-Tang Clan?
I’m the abbot. Every rapper was like a superhero. I watched the cartoon ”Voltron.” All of the Voltron lions are powerful by themselves. But when you form Voltron, that’s when the Defender of the Universe comes down and pulls out the blazing sword. I applied that concept to us. I applied the chessboard. One of our first videos was ”Chess Boxing.” In that video, it was me and GZA playing chess and members of the Wu-Tang were pieces on the chessboard.
Brothers played their position[s] throughout the course of our rise in hip-hop. My only rule was that it had to be a dictatorship. With the notoriety, there was competition at times but they still followed my ideas. Things almost got physical at times. In the beginning, it was so tight that one member got a deal and it helped another member get a deal.
Everyone has an idea for a film. How did you make it a reality?
Foresight is important. I had a five-year plan for myself. No one knew about it except my wife and I. I went to Quentin Tarantino, who became my mentor. I was his student. I went to film festivals and was on the set of Kill Bill. I took some of my own money and filmed a movie called ”Wu-Tang vs. The Golden Phoenix.” I had a chance to taste what it would be like. I studied books and script writing for five years. After five years, I wrote my first screenplay. It was good, but it wasn’t great. I pitched it to Eli Roth and he helped me flesh out the ideas to make it bigger. I learned from him and it led to 130 pages and we took it to the studio. The studio saw an artist. They were impressed by the idea. Most production studios believe that a rapper would make another Boyz N the Hood or movie about where he grew up. I wanted to take hip-hop to another level when I made this film.
What was Quentin Tarantino’s role?
He’s on board as a producer. The thing about kung fu films is that they are big on an international level. But we don’t really get many of those films in the U.S. We wanted to separate from the 50 other films that are made internationally. We added Quentin Tarantino and he’s the master. But after Kill Bill, no one filled that void. I’m looking to fill the void with The Man With the Iron Fists. If it’s done properly and we’re accepted by the public, there is an audience that will come see films like this every year.
If you created a kung fu film based on five fierce women, who would you choose as your leading ladies?
Lucy Liu has a natural knack for action films. Zoe Saldana did a great job in Columbiana. She’s very agile and beautiful. Scarlett Johansson … did a good job with The Avengers. I would bring in Pam Grier to be a godmother who could tell the young ladies what time it is. Jamie Chung — she looks so sexy when she does a side kick. The kick alone is worth the price of admission. I would have a rainbow coalition of beautiful women.