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In the film, directed by Joseph Kahn, Worthy stars as Adam Merkin, a progressive grad student from Berkley who jumps into the world of battle raps for a thesis subject but finds his success soon sparks outrage from the community.
Worthy, who had spent five years on the Disney Channel series Austin & Ally, told The Hollywood Reporter In Studio he was “intimidated” about signing on to the project.
“I was really nervous taking on this project. I was just coming off a Disney Channel show and there’s that period of time after doing a kid’s program where you really have to be careful about what projects you take,” he said.
He continued: “I was worried the subject matter was controversial. The themes are controversial, and I knew I risked alienating a part of my audience, but I knew that I had to take risks in order to expand as an actor, and playing it safe wasn’t the best route, and it wasn’t necessarily trying to be edgy or break out of some mold that I thought I was in. It was just about working with storytellers that I really trust and working with scripts that I thought were smart and were things I haven’t seen before.”
One person that the actor put a lot of trust in was director Joseph Kahn, who once told Worthy he was “the worst rapper to read for this project.”
“He wanted me for this role but he told me, ‘You’re the worst rapper to read for this project. I need you to learn how to rap.’ And I can’t take any credit for the actual raps going well. It’s all because of the battle rap community. They really embraced me and they spent countless hours working with me,” he told THR.
Worthy also spoke about getting Eminem’s “stamp of approval” in the film, saying, “Eminem has always been one of my favorite rappers. I grew up listening to him; 8 Mile is one of my favorite movies. So being able to do a project with him was amazing.”
Watch the video above to see Worthy discuss how rap battles in Bodied are different from the ones in 8 Mile, which rappers helped him along the way and how the rap-battle culture has changed for the younger generation.
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