LL Cool J On Acting, Music And Keeping America Fit
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The day may soon come when [lastfm]LL Cool J[/lastfm] is known more for his acting roles than his epic list of Hip Hop hits. The man who gave us the singles “Mama Said Knock You Out” and “Doin’ It” has made a splash on the small screen. When he’s not creating music or hosting the TV.com Awards, he spends much of his time on the set of NCIS: Los Angeles, brushing up on his Arabic and the military lingo used by his character Sam Hanna.
A Guest List staffer sat down with LL recently to discuss his role on the show, his new fitness and lifestyle book Platinum 360, and his love of music and movies. Read below to find out which artists make his Top 5 List, and the surprising movie that he considers the best. (Hint: Gather your angels.)
LL Cool J’s Top 5 Musicians of All Time
1. [lastfm]Michael Jackson[/lastfm]
2. [lastfm]The Beatles[/lastfm]
3. [lastfm]Jimi Hendrix[/lastfm]
4. [lastfm]Rick James[/lastfm]
5. [lastfm]Leonard Cohen[/lastfm]
LL’s Top 5 Favorite Movies of All Time
1. It’s A Wonderful Life
3. The Godfather
4. Crazy Heart
5. The Shawshank Redemption
Q: Your character Sam Hanna speaks fluent Arabic. Are you still studying the language? What is Sam’s role on the NCIS squad?
LL: Yes, I’m still learning, still studying – it’s pretty exciting. My tech advisor on the set is fluent in Arabic as well, so that helps.
Sam Hanna is a former Navy SEAL and really cares about his team – he’s a natural leader. He thinks tactically and strategically in most situations. He’s very loyal to America and very much a believer in Democracy and upholding the laws. He’s a really cool character.
Q: Is it true you spent time with members of the military when preparing for this role?
LL: Absolutely. I went down to Camp Pendleton and spent a lot of time with the Marines, and there were also Navy sailors and some Special Forces guys there. We had some really intense conversations about what they go through, and what I would be going through as a guy who’s playing a former military guy turned agent.
I went to interrogation class, learned how to handle weapons, tactical entry, the proper way to stand when you’re holding a firearm, up close fighting – a lot of different stuff. It was really exciting and I learned a lot.
Q: Tell us about your song “NCIS: No Crew Is Superior.”
LL: I was just inspired. The whole NCIS thing was just really a lot of fun, and as I was working on the show I just got inspired one day. I was sitting in the trailer and just started writing and putting words together. I was reading Oscar Wilde and a lot of different things at the time and decided to write a song about the mindset and the thinking process: What would go on in this character’s head? What goes on in his mind? That was like my own inner monologue that the character was thinking to himself when we first started the show.
Q: As an actor, where is your sweet spot? Drama? Comedy?
LL: Action is a lot of fun for me – that stuff seems to really come off well for me. But I enjoy it all. I’ve had movies that have done well in basically every genre. I’ve had romantic comedies that have done well, I’ve had sci-fi movies that have done well, sports dramas, just about every niche within the genre film.
Q: You’ve always been very into fitness. Tell us about your latest project Platinum 360.
LL: Platinum 360 is a diet and lifestyle book – a full-circle guide to how to live your life. It stands on the three pillars that we need: Mind, Body and Soul, in order to be successful in life. I talk about the mistakes I’ve made, the things I’ve been through, and the intellectual challenges I’ve faced. I talk about being spiritually balanced – no particular religion – just being centered and in tune with your inner spirit and your self.
There’s also a nutritional piece which is the “Body” piece. I got a research scientist from Yale University to help my co-author and I put together a book that we feel will really help a lot of people. I’ve been living on the principles of this book for the last nine years, so this is not just something I’m doing to have a book out – I really live this.
Q: What type of people would you recommend the program to?
LL: It’s for men and women. We tested it on both genders, on all races, it works for everybody. It truly, truly works.
We agree. To see the results of LL’s Platinum 360, just check out his chiseled physique while he hosts the TV.com Awards (from July 24, 2010).
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