Michael Jai White on ‘Black Dynamite’
I loved the movie Black Dynamite, so I was looking forward to any further adventures of Black Dynamite.
The Adult Swim "Black Dynamite" animated series is a little different from the live-action movie. The movie spoofed Blaxploitation and included intentional continuity errors, but the animated series can defy reality and draw pretty much any kind of trouble Black Dynamite wants to get into.
As is appropriate for the theme of the show, we met Michael Jai White at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles for an interview about "Black Dynamite."
CraveOnline: You were playing Ferrante Jones playing Black Dynamite in the movie. Is this more just playing Black Dynamite as a character?
Michael Jai White: This is definitely Black Dynamite. Being that in the movie we lampooned elements of Blaxploitation, we’re not doing that in the cartoon. The cartoon is straight on occurring that time period, so I play Black Dynamite from the gate.
CraveOnline: Is that a different kind of performance for you?
Michael Jai White: No, not really. Not really. There’s just no glimpse behind the character here. There’s no boom mic that might show because that’s a Blaxploitation nod that we did in the movie. You can’t have a boom mic show up in a cartoon because that would be an element that we’re not dealing with.
This is something that’s occurring in the ‘70s, like other movies that were shot in the ‘70s that weren’t Blaxploitation yet they starred black people. Unfortunately, any black movie at that time period runs the risk of being called Blaxploitation even though they weren’t. There were still movies done by MGM and major companies that were straight ahead movies, had nothing to do with the Blaxploitation moniker.
CraveOnline: When you do the martial arts noises, do you actually have to do martial arts in the sound booth?
Michael Jai White: [Laughs] Oh no, no, no. That doesn’t work. You’d be taking out mics all the time.
CraveOnline: Is it weird to just do the noises?
Michael Jai White: I find it’s weird at first but the whole situation, it’s making believe.
CraveOnline: Will there be any new catchphrases for Black Dynamite we learn in the series?
Michael Jai White: I hope so. Sometimes you realize there are new catch phrases that occur after people are watching it. We learned that the yell, the ki-yah, became a new catch phrase. We were at Comic-Con and we started hearing people yell, "Su-ey!" We were approaching the convention area where we were supposed to be and the audience was there yelling this. I’m like, "Am I hearing su-ey?" That’s becoming popular. That never was part of the movie but it’s really been part of the cartoon.
CraveOnline: The movie Black Dynamite was your baby with Byron Minns and Scott Sanders. Have you been able to maintain artistic control over the series?
Michael Jai White: It’s a fusion. [Director] Carl [Jones]’s taught me a lot about animation and how to infuse the two things together. Essentially it’s the same characters. I’ve been taught a lot doing the series. It’s been a great ride.
CraveOnline: What’s the status of the live-action sequel?
Michael Jai White: What Byron [Minns] and I always intended is we always thought from the beginning of a trilogy, Black Dynamite being one of a trilogy that would occur in that time period that starred essentially the same cast. We have some really funny ideas of other movies that are in that real vibrant time period. We’re trying to decide which would be the next step to do in that trilogy.
CraveOnline: If you did two movies that weren’t Black Dynamite 2 and 3, would you consider revisiting Black Dynamite maybe in the ‘80s? An older Black Dynamite and do another period piece?
Michael Jai White: Who knows? If there’s some other stuff to do with Black Dynamite, we’ll definitely look at that as well. Some of these other things we’re very, very excited about developing.
CraveOnline: What do we have to do to get a Blood and Bone II?
Michael Jai White: Well, there is a sequel that is much better than the original. We just have to find the time to shoot it. It looks like there’s a possibility we may be able to do it by the end of the year.
CraveOnline: Would it be a bigger film than a fighting tournament?
Michael Jai White: It would be a bigger film but it’s really more like a prequel that explores who that guy really is.
CraveOnline: Marvel seems to be calling every African-American actor there is to talk about Black Panther. Are you one of them and do you have any thoughts on approaching that?
Michael Jai White: I have no thoughts whatsoever. Sometimes with Hollywood movies, I’m surprised when they get things right. They come at things from a whole different perspective. I don’t even pretend to know how they think. Who knows what they’re thinking but that’s not on my radar. I would have a discussion but it’s nothing I think about.
CraveOnline: Is there any more "Mortal Kombat?"
Michael Jai White: Yeah, that’s definitely in the plans for the future.
CraveOnline: Would you be involved in writing the new series?
Michael Jai White: No, that’s Kevin Tancharoen for "Mortal Kombat." He’s a perfectionist and what he’s crafting as far as the script, he’s taking his time to do it right but we’re waiting on another draft. He’s done a couple drafts and he’s just perfecting it.
CraveOnline: You don’t eat chicken and waffles, do you?
Michael Jai White: NO! I don't know when the last time I had fried chicken was. Must’ve been years. As soon as I think about eating it, I think about the stomach ache I’d get.