RZA: Wu'd by Hollywood
The coveted composer has written music for films such as "Kill Bill" Vols. 1 and 2 and the upcoming "Miami Vice." Now he's making noise in front of the camera in the thriller "Derailed," which stars Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston.
Staten Island's native son - who now lives in California - plays Winston, a drug dealer-turned-mailroom clerk who meets a gruesome end.
"It was something I was nervous about doing, being a hip-hop artist, and being who I am, and [having] my ego," admits RZA (pronounced RIZZ-uh). But fellow Wu thespian Method Man, who got whacked in 1998's "Belly," calmed his fears.
"He said if you can make the character someone people will like and you die, you did a good job," RZA says. "So I just tried to make them laugh."
Born Robert Diggs, the 35-year-old kung-fu fan has completed a screenplay of his own. It was originally planned as an indie, but he's in talks with major studios to fund the martial-arts thriller, in which he would play a supporting role.
He also has recording projects in the works, including a collaboration with another Wu-mate, GZA, and System of a Down bassist Shavo Odadjian. Next March, the producer delivers the followup to his 1995 project with Wu lyricist Raekwon, "Only Built for Cuban Linx."
"My production has gone back to its original rawness," says RZA, who avidly studies the piano, guitar and drums. "After doing all of the composing and working with an 80-piece orchestra, I am back to my keyboard, just chopping up samples. I'm back to the foundation."
And after a decade in the game, he's happy at how hip hop has evolved.
"Hip hop is beautiful now," says RZA. "Hip hop has grown to so many avenues, so many different chambers. Now I feel we can be considered musicians and artists - not just a bunch of hip-hop hooligans trying to make a dollar."