When Kanye West needs to recruit anyone for anything, all he has to do is go through his rolodex of famous friends: so in casting his experimental film project, Cruel Summer, he called up his pal Aziz Ansari.
The 30-minute movie, which was filmed in Qatar, premiered in May at the Cannes Film Festival — on seven video screens inside a pyramid-shaped tent. (Behold, photos of the full spectacle here.) At the time, West explained the setup as representing “a post-Steve Jobs, post-Windows era … where your mind puts the screen back together, the way you put memories together.”
Ansari, the actor-comedian who portrays endearing wannabe high-roller Tom Haverford on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, previously had a cameo in the music video for West and Jay-Z‘s song “Otis,” from the rappers’ 2011 album Watch the Throne.
In Cruel Summer, which West intends to bring stateside, Ansari makes a brief appearance as a prisoner.
“I haven’t seen it yet! I haven’t been around a theater that had seven screens, which is necessary to experience it,” he told THR on Tuesday in New York, at a Peggy Siegal Company screening of the LCD Soundsystem documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits.
“I just did a small, one-day thing in it. He was just like, ‘We’re doing this movie. It’s gonna be on seven screens, and it’s called ‘Cruel Summer.’ Do you want to do a thing in it? And I was, like, ‘Sure.'”
Asked whether West is capable of recreating the seven-screen experience in the U.S., Ansari said: “He builds them! In Cannes, he, like, built the installations.”
Ansari, meanwhile, returns to work on Parks and Rec in August. While Amy Poehler‘s Leslie Knope begins her duties as newly minted mayor of Pawnee, Indiana, her boyfriend/campaign manager Ben (Adam Scott) will embark on his own career journey in Washington.
Ansari says he hasn’t seen any scripts for next season, but if Tom were to follow Ben to the nation’s capital, he observes that his character most certainly wouldn’t be running for any kind of office.
“I think Tom would just be standing outside of some really popular DC nightclub trying to weasel his way in through a back door entrance or something like that,” he joked. “I don’t think he’d be working a political angle.”
Speaking of politics, Ansari is now starring in a campaign ad for President Obama, which features a photo of him with the caption “I’ll blink when you vote.”
“I just went to some voter registration event and they took a photo of me and someone came up with that,” he explained. “Hopefully it will register some people to vote.”
As for Obama’s rival, Mitt Romney, Ansari says he’s undecided on the idea of hanging out with the Republican candidate.
“With Mitt Romney? I don’t know! I’m not sure,” he said, adding: “Me and Mitt don’t travel in the same circles.”