Toronto 2012: Snoop 'Lion' Dogg on His Life-Changing Trip to Jamaica (Q&A)

 Estevan Oriol

The Doggfather goes to Jamaica, returns reborn as Snoop Lion. The story might sound like it warrants a cymbal crash at the end, but Snoop Dogg’s trip to the birthplace of cultural icon Bob Marley was anything but a joke.

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The 40-year-old rapper, actor, entrepreneur and, yes, smoker, headed to the Caribbean island to write and record music, but he ended up with a documentary, Reincarnated, which debuted Sept. 7 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by Andy Capper for Vice Films and produced by Vice Media co-founder Suroosh Alvi along with Snoop’s manager Ted Chung, the film chronicles a true rags-to-rap-to-riches story of the hip-hop star born Calvin Broadus and his quest for self-fulfillment and a sense of place in the world. Was he, like Marley, sent to spread a gospel? Is there deeper meaning to surviving his gang-banging formative years when so many others didn’t? And when you’ve already accomplished so much, where do you go next? As far as his doc is concerned, the answer to that question is Toronto -- where Snoop says he already feels like he won.

“For TIFF to even accept my movie, that’s enough for me,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I never thought my movie would make it into a festival with such critically acclaimed films. This ain’t my lane, but I love every minute of it.”

No stranger to the movie business having appeared in such comedies as Soul Plane, Old School, Starsky & Hutch and The Wash, Snoop has learned much about life in front of the camera, behind the scenes and in the seats. Here are a few of those hard-earned lessons:

ALWAYS BE ON
“Having cameras in your face all the time is hard because sometimes you just want to be left alone. But that’s why you always have to be on. You never know when you’re going to capture that moment. Then, when you watch it back at the end of the day and you see that moment, you’re glad the cameras were there.”

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HIRE A LOCAL DRIVER
“The roads in Jamaica -- one false move and you could fall 3,000 feet and no one would ever find you. We had to have Evel Knievel driving us because it was some tricky moves. … I had my camera guy to the side of me, and it was a great experience.”

STEER THE ROLE, DON’T LET IT STEER YOU
“One of the hardest things I learned was that it’s better to control your own character than be characterized. With the first couple of movies I got, I didn’t add anything to the character. But as I started doing more films and making my own, I learned how to add my thing and to give the director and writer what they had seen in me. I felt closer to the characters that they tried to create of me.”

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DON’T ASK STONERS TO LEAVE THE HOUSE
“With Mac and Devin Go to High School, I thought it was a waste of time to go theatrical with it. That movie was to be enjoyed in the convenience of your home and your couch, hanging out with your homies, chilling, eating some snacks, able to turn it up and rewind some parts -- it’s a stoner flick. To stand in line, get popcorn and wait for all those movie trailers. … First of all, we might get pulled over on the way to the motherf---ing theater. We could be dealing with a trap or a road block or checkpoint; it’s too much. It’s like, put that shit in right now, smoke something and enjoy it. That’s why the DVD was created.”

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