For years, Ice-T has helped uphold the law as Odafin Tutuola, but in the new horror film Bloodrunners, the renowned actor and musician plays jazz club owner—and vampire—Chesterfield, who is looking to bootleg a little booze and a whole lot of blood during the Prohibition era. With Bloodrunners out now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD, I had the great pleasure of speaking with Ice-T about sinking his teeth into the juicy role, his band Body Count's upcoming album Bloodlust, and much more.
Congratulations on the film, Ice-T. I haven't had this much with a vampire movie in a while, and it was so unique, too, with the Prohibition setting, so hats off you and the entire team for putting this together.
Ice-T: Me and Mike Harvey work on Law & Order [Special Victims Unit] together, and he's the makeup and special effects guy from this film. So he was talking to me one day and he was like, ""How do you feel about doing a vampire movie?" And after you played a cop for 18 years on TV, you're like, "Yeah. F*** it. Yeah."
Then he started telling me the idea that it was some cops in the ’30s, back in Prohibition days, and these people, you think they're bootleggers, but actually they're selling blood. I was like, "Well, vampires gotta live. They're supposed to be 2,000 years old, so they have to live during that period some kind of way."
I said, "F*** it, let's do it." Then he told me they didn't have a lot of money and I was like, "okay." That's usually a deal-breaker. But I was like, "f*** it." I say that people do independent films for two reasons. One is, they're too broke that they gotta do them, or they're okay and they don't need the money and they just wanna have some fun. I fell in the second part, and I went and did the movie with them. It came out pretty good. I was very impressed. I put pressure on them. I'm like, "Don't put me in no whack shit, man. Don't do that. I'm going to do you a favor, but don't put me in no whack shit." I went to the screening and I was very pleased.
Yeah. It looks like a movie that was made in that time period, and it has such a classy look to it, too. It's like stepping back in time and you totally believe the world that you're in. [Director] Dan [Lantz] and the team really did a good job putting you in that world.
Ice-T: Dan was exceptional. Dan has passion, and that's what really sold me. I met Dan, and he was going to make this movie and he wants to make more movies, and that's intoxicating when you see somebody that's that serious. The scene of the movie where I'm walking down the road, they shot that in my garage. They came over to my house with a green screen and said, "We gotta get one more shot of you," and they brought shit. I'm like, These motherf***ers are crazy. But they got the movie done.
The sound stage was in a strip mall. They had a gutted supermarket that they used. I just take my hat off to indie filmmakers man, they can make a movie. A lot of people say they can't make a movie. I'm like, "You just don't want to make a movie bad enough." People can make movies if you really want to, but you've got to be driven.
And Chesterfield is so cool, too, because nobody expects him to be the ringleader, the master of everything. Here he is behind the scenes pulling all the strings, and I thought it was really cool for you to play a character like that in that time period, and to be able to surprise people.
Ice-T: Also, it has the racial component in it because at that time, a black guy running that club, I couldn't be it. So I got my gay buddy [Victor Renfield, played by Victor Renfield], acting like he's the boss, but I'm really the boss and I'm the vampire. It was written pretty interestingly. I didn't expect to explode into bats. They said, "Okay, stand up here and just throw your hands back." When I throw them out, I'm like, "Oh, you motherf***ers have CGI and shit?" What's going on around here? So, not only script-wise, they did a decent job considering they didn't have a lot of money.
Were you a fan of any vampire films when you were growing up? Was that something that you watched?
Ice-T: Well, I think vampires are pretty much in all of our DNA at this point. From Dracula, I've been watching vampire movies my whole life. There's so many of them. Even my daughter, she's one year old, I can say, "Act like a zombie,' and she knows to drag her foot. There's so many. We all know what a zombie is and we all know how vampires are. There's just so much of it. I love vampires. I never thought I would play one, though. But I did my job. I think I bit her neck correctly. I went back for the bite and got her.
Oh yeah, you nailed the part, and he's such a smooth vampire, too. This is a guy that can get people to trust him, and when they least expect it, he's biting into their necks.
Ice-T: I always looked at vampires as being players. The vampire is the guy that pops up. Usually, even in Dracula, you're getting married to some square, and then out comes this fly motherf***er through the window with a cape, and he just basically knocks your girl. He rolls in on her and swoons her, and then, the next day, you still think she's marrying you, but if he calls her, she shows up. What kind a dude is that? That's a cold motherf***er, right?
Vampires have always had that sexual, heavy, slick style to them. They've never been brutes. All vampires are very cool and calculated versus some of the other horror monsters, like Wolf Man—you can't invite him nowhere. But, the vampires, they'll slide right in and be sitting right next to you.
I was curious, was that you really playing the trumpet at the beginning of the movie?
Ice-T: It was me acting like I was playing a trumpet. Just like I act like I'm a cop on TV. Movie magic, man. I actually tried to play the trumpet when I was in high school, but I can't play "Jingle Bells" on one of them motherf***ers.
You definitely make it up for it in other areas of music. I know your band Body Count is on the verge of releasing a new album [Bloodlust]. Is there anything you can talk about with that?
Ice-T: One cool thing is Mike Harvey, who actually got me to do Blood Runners, did the special effects on a video called "Here I Go Again," which is a serial killer record on the album, and we did it like a horror movie. It's like a horror movie.
We have six degrees of separation. Both the movie and my album have the word "blood" in them. Bloodlust is just my look at the different facets of how bloodthirsty humans are. All of those who've got to gossip, how we like hearing bad news about people, how bloodthirsty humans are. I think humans are the ultimate virus. I just deal with all different ways we are, from the robber, to the racists, to the cops, to all these different things. The album is getting really, really good reviews. I just read a review and we got an eight, others nines and tens. For me to be at this point in my career and getting high scores like that, that's a good thing. That's unheard of. I'm happy with this album. I think it's going to be a mind-blowing album once people get to hear the whole thing.
Is Chesterfield a character you would be open to playing again?
Ice-T: Yeah, I would do that if the movie returns with a bigger budget. You never know, a lot of times small movies come out like this and somebody says, "Lets get going and knock it down. Let's do it on a bigger scale." I did this movie more as a favor, and it came out to be a very cool film that I'm very proud of. Hopefully people will enjoy it.