When Wesley Snipes took to the big screen as the Marvel Comics character Blade in the first film, he immediately owned the role. With three Blade films under his belt, Snipes will forever be associated with the character. So, when Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones stepped into the role of Blade for the new Spike TV series, he had some pretty huge shoes to fill. While fans may have felt it was jarring to see someone else in the role of the vampire hunter, in short time they came to accept and look forward to this new take on the character.
While Sticky’s now well known for his role on Spike TV’s “Blade,” he’s also been recognized for his work on “The Shield” as Kern Little, who sadly found his days numbered in the last season of the show. Sticky first came to public attention as a member of the hardcore rap group Onyx, whose 1993 album “Badafucup” produced the hit single “Slam.”
CBR News spoke with Sticky Fingaz late last week about playing Blade, the challenges the role has presented him and a return to the studio for the next Onyx album.
Hi Sticky, thanks for talking with me today.
When I spoke with David Goyer the other day, one of the things he mentioned is he felt it took a while for everyone on the show to find their footing. There’s some truth in that because if you look at the early shows early shows and compare them to the later shows, there’s a noticeable difference in the way the show is delivered.
There’s a huge difference. Me, personally, I don’t think I fell into sync with the show until maybe the third or fouth episode.
What do you think happened that helped the role click for you?
I think it’s just a matter of getting comfortable with the part. It’s like being a newlywed and shit. Those first couple of years you’re still getting to know each other, but after a year or so you get a bit more comfortable with each other and you might start using the bathroom in front of each other. Four or five years later you might invite another couple in the room with you. That type of shit. You know what I mean? [laughs] So, it took me a while to grow into it.
David said in the beginning you started by watching the films and they told you to stop doing that. Do you think that helped?
I did watch the boxed set of 1, 2 & 3 and I had already seen all three already, but I just went back to revisit it. By watching those I think that what might have happened is it made me think I don’t want to fuck with the public too much by taking on Wesley’s character when we’re trying to create a whole new character. Yeah, it’s the same Marvel Comics character, but it’s a different person playing it. Like, Michael Keaton is going to do Batman differently than Christian Bale. It was more like, “Sticky, forget what you’ve heard and seen. Just do you. We trust your judgment. Run with it.” I think that’s what I started to do around episode 3 and on.
By the later episodes, you completely own the role. I stopped thinking you were the guy in the Wesley Snipes role. That’s a huge moment for any actor playing a character so clearly defined by another actor. Was that intimidating for you, as an actor, to step into a role so clearly associated with one actor?
I don’t think so. If anything, that excited me. I didn’t even think about being intimidated. It was like, “Yo, we’re moving on.” We’re not trying to do what they’ve already done – we’re adding on and putting our own spin on it. No, I wasn’t intimidated.
What’s your favorite part of the role thus far?
I’d have to say everything. I don’t think it’s any one specific thing. I have to say as far as the stunts and the action, I think the wire work is my favorite part.
Have you ever done wire work like this before?
No and I think that may be why it’s my favorite part because it’s new to me. It’s fun. They’ve got me hanging like four floors up in the air and people are screaming at me, “You OK?” Everyone’s worried about me and have to be safe and I’m like, “Yo, this shit is great! You kidding me, let’s do it again!” [laughs] I’m just a physical person – anything physical, fighting, running, racing, I did gymnastics when I was a kid. I love it.
You’re not a martial artist yourself are you?
Now I am! [laughs] Honestly I wasn’t going into the role, but I’m an athlete naturally and anything physical comes easy to me. I’ve dabbled in boxing, which is the corner stone of all fighting. I wouldn’t say it was the hardest part, but the thing I had to do the most to prepare for the fighting was the stretching. I had a stretching session one time for an hour and a half! I have never stretched that long in my life, but it enabled me to kick higher, faster and harder.
Have you hurt yourself at all during the production?
Yeah, I did. I had nerve damage in my right hand. That was from episode five. They had me hanging on chains for like twelve hours, two days straight. I was hanging from chains and my arms were up in the air and I got grabbed and lifted up and my head was banged into brick wall and was let go. So, I dropped down and the chain grabbed onto my wrist. For a whole month I couldn’t, like, even squeeze a gun trigger. With one hand I’ll be shooting, “Bap-Bap-Bap-Bap,” while with my other hand it’s like, “Bap—–Bap—–Bap!” [laughs] But it healed and it’s back to normal. No harm, no foul.
They didn’t have to stop production for you?
Nah, I’m a fighter. I just had to work around it.
“Blade” is filmed entirely up in Vancouver. How do you like Vancouver? It’s certainly very different from your home town of NYC.
You know, as a member of Onyx, we traveled the world. I’ve been around the world four times. My home is in New York, but I live in LA, but I’ve been around the world so for me every place is the same. It’s not about the continent, it’s about the people that occupy the city. All people are the same no matter nationality, religion or race. They all have the same pains and pleasures. But I like Vancouver – it’s a clean city. The nightlife isn’t that great, everything closes early. Ain’t no black folks out there.
You’re not telling me you get strange looks walking around the city, do you?
No, if anything I’m like a jewel out there because I’m so rare! [laughs] I stick out like a sore thumb. I definitely can’t do anything wrong. “It was the black guy!” Well, there’s only one of us here, so it must be me! [laughs]
What do you enjoy more, music or acting?
You know, I’ve never in my life been able to answer that question because I enjoy both of them equally. That’s what led me to produce, direct and write my own movie. The reason why I bring this up is because the entire movie is Rap. It’s called “A Day in the Life.” There’s a couple of rappers in there, but the majority of the actors in the movie are A-list actors like Michael Rapaport, Omar Epps, Mekhi Phifer, Clarence Williams III, Cedric the Entertainer, Vivica Fox. So, basically I did a movie and all the dialogue in the movie is a rap. So, to answer the question, I like both equally so here’s my effort to join the two.
But does one present you with greater challenges? Do you find one medium is harder for you to work in?
Nah, I think they’re both easy, but they have their differences. With music you’re being yourself. You bring your own self in to play. In movies, you’re playing somebody else’s character that somebody made up.
So, making “A Day in the Life” had to be very rewarding for you as you took care of every aspect of the film and joined the two creative worlds you enjoy the most.
I haven’t been as excited as I was making this movie in a long time. Not since the first Onyx album have I been this excited. Maybe my first solo album and then this movie. Then my next high was the “Blade” role.
Acting wise you’re best known for your roles on “Blade” and “The Shield” as Kern Little. How different have these two productions been?
Not too different. They’re both hour long dramas so it’s like a week and a half of shooting per episode. Of course, “Blade” is more exciting because I’m doing stunts and I’m fighting and I’m flying fifty feet in the air. I’m working with swords, people could get hurt. So, I think “Blade” was more exciting. But I loved “The Shield.” It’s a critically acclaimed show. It may have only been a recurring role, but out of four seasons I was in a bunch of episodes.
One of the things that surprised me while watching Blade was how far you could go with the content. Was there anything they came to you with where you said to yourself, “Oh man, I don’t believe I have to do this!”
It wasn’t like I can’t believe, but there was an episode – either 11 or 12 – where they wanted me to kill this familiar and I was like, “Why would I kill her?” And I’m questioning them asking, “Yo, why would I as Blade kill the familiar girl? I’d keep her alive!” They said no, but then it turns out on final edit they editing me killin her out. So, it turns out they didn’t want me killing her anyway!
Ultimately they agreed with you.
Yeah, she’s still in the episode, but you never see me kill her.
Do you have a favorite episode?
I look at the show as a whole and it’s hard for me not to watch the show and not have a critical eye, but a lot of times in “Blade” I was able to watch it and just sit back and enjoy. I think the episode I enjoyed the most so far was episode #8 where we had the flash backs to Blade as a kid. I still read comics now and I liked how it touched on a lot of things in the comics about Blade’s past as a child.
What are you reading comic wise these days?
Mostly Marvel Comics and stuff. “X-Men,” “Wolverine,” “Punisher,” “The Hulk.” I love that “Civil War” series they got going on. And you know they’ve got that “Blade” comic coming out again in October.
Yeah, it’s dope. I’ve read the whole first issue. They had me talk about it.
Where’s that going to appear?
I don’t know, man. Sorry.
Let’s talk about music a bit. All I saw online were rumors that a new Onyx album called “The Black Rock” would be out at the end of 2006, but no confirmation. Will we be hearing some new Onyx any time soon?
It’s no rumor. It’s coming out! We’re in the studio working on it currently!
When do you think it’ll ship?
Next year, probably first quarter or at the worst second quarter. It’s hip-hop and rock and roll – we’re taking it there.
Do you think this will be your last album with the group?
Well, I can’t tell the future, so I don’t know. We thought the last album would be the last album. But everywhere I go people are asking me and the band, “What’s up with the music?” So, we felt compelled to put something else out. We didn’t want to just come out with a regular hip hop album and talk about all the same stuff everybody’s talking about, “I’m getting money! I’m getting bitches! I’m wearing diamonds! I’ll kill you!” That’s so lame. We want to take it to another level. So we said the word Onyx means black rock, so let’s call the album The Black Rock – make it hip hop and rock, you know?
Thanks, Sticky. Talk to you soon and good luck with the album release.
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