André 3000 has spoken about the challenges he faced while preparing to portray Jimi Hendrix in the upcoming film Jimi: All Is By My Side.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, the actor and Outkast rapper – real name André Benjamin – revealed one of the troubles he needed to overcome was learning how to play guitar with his left hand.
“Guitar training was strenuous because I’m a right-handed guitar-player,” said Benjamin. “Left-handed is completely opposite. It’s like walking backwards.”
Benjamin was also required to lose 20 pounds to play the role: “To get that gait, to move in that way, I had to feel that way. I worked out twice a week, and ate just enough calories to keep myself going.”
Covering a defining year in the life of Hendrix, Jimi: All Is By My Side follows the young musician as he lands in London in 1966. The film, however, will not feature any songs recorded or composed by Hendrix himself, as the late guitarist’s estate refused to give filmmakers the necessary permission. Instead, songs by The Beatles and Muddy Waters, that Hendrix himself covered in the ’60s, will be featured.
Benjamin was also asked about a potential Outkast biopic, joking that he should be played by “somebody stupid – like Leonardo [DiCaprio]”.
Jimi: All Is By My Side producer Danny Bramson had previously revealed that Benjamin played guitar for six hours a day in preparation for the Hendrix role.
“The idea of anyone playing Hendrix, let alone a right-handed guitarist, was one of the greatest challenges of the project,” said Bramson. “I found a really patient teacher and put together a regimen for André when he came out to Los Angeles. He sat in a small studio, six hours a day, putting in dedication [to learn how to play left-handed]. His guitarmanship had to carry the idea of grace and fluidity. John and I declared that we didn’t want to have the camera cropped on his face and not the guitar. He kept working in a rehearsal room throughout the production.”
While Benjamin prepared to perform as Hendrix on-screen, guitarist Waddy Wachtel took on the job of re-recording songs for the film’s soundtrack.
Jimi: All Is By My Side will be released in the UK on October 24.