Not My Job: Method Man Gets Quizzed On Method Acting The TV host and founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan answers questions about the dramatic technique of becoming the character one plays.
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Not My Job: Method Man Gets Quizzed On Method Acting

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Not My Job: Method Man Gets Quizzed On Method Acting

Not My Job: Method Man Gets Quizzed On Method Acting

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PETER SAGAL, HOST:

And now the game where we ask somebody who's done a little bit of everything to try his hand at a little bit of nothing. It's called Not My Job. Method Man helped found the hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan. He's done best-selling collaborations with Redman and Mary J. Blige. He's acted in movies and TV shows. And he's now the host of the new rap-battle show "Drop The Mic."

Method Man, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So how was...

METHOD MAN: What's up, Chicago?

SAGAL: There you go.

(CHEERING)

SAGAL: So, Method, I was reading about you. And you grew up in Staten Island, right?

METHOD MAN: Well, split between Long Island and Staten Island. Yeah.

SAGAL: I mean, was that like a center of hip-hop culture? Because I usually think that rappers coming out of your era were more like Brooklyn, maybe Uptown, maybe Bronx.

METHOD MAN: No. New York on the whole. New York City is the home of hip-hop. So it's going to spread.

SAGAL: Right. Absolutely.

METHOD MAN: And we're one of the five boroughs contrary to what everybody thinks. Staten Island is.

SAGAL: Yes, there's a little Staten Island pride. I knew that.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: I don't want to suck up, but I've always felt Staten Island is one of the boroughs.

(LAUGHTER)

P. J. O'ROURKE: OK. All right, Paula.

METHOD MAN: Man, I love her.

O'ROURKE: Yeah you...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Everybody does.

O'ROURKE: We all do, yeah.

SAGAL: You - it turns out - I was thinking about this - you and I have something in common. We grew up more or less at the same time in the same area. And so we - you and I - I'm guessing here - both watched the same Hong Kong martial arts movies.

METHOD MAN: Oh, absolutely.

SAGAL: What - did you have a favorite?

METHOD MAN: "Five Deadly Venoms," tops.

SAGAL: Oh, absolutely. I liked "The Flying Guillotine," the one with that little thing that flew through the air, landed on people's heads and chopped off their heads.

METHOD MAN: Oh, yeah. You would like that.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I, of course, however, did not take that love of Hong Kong martial arts movies and create, you know, one of the great hip-hop collectives of all time. How did Wu-Tang Clan come about? Did you guys just meet each other in the clubs - and performing or...

METHOD MAN: You know, we were always familiar with each other from around the way because one thing about Staten Island - it's so small. So if you got a gang of rappers, they all going to know each other. And when the opportunity came again, they was like, well, there's strength in numbers. Let's bring our whole crew. And it worked.

SAGAL: Yeah, it did. But was it weird? There were nine of you. Is that - I mean, I've heard about problems in duos. You know, Simon and Garfunkel couldn't keep it together. How do you manage to, like, make things work over the years with nine of you?

METHOD MAN: I can honestly say we all love each other. And our kids play together. They're grown now. So they pretty much hang out with each other. And the fact that, you know, when you getting $35 a piece at a show, it humbles you.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I guess so.

FAITH SALIE: With nine people in a group, even if you love each other, I mean, there must have been differences of opinion. That's like our Supreme Court. How - did you guys take a vote? How did you decide on things?

METHOD MAN: Oh, you know - I mean, the same way brothers argue and things like that and - but we have so many members there that, you know, right always outweighs wrong. So majority rules. It's not really a vote. It's kind of like a unsaid nod. Like, hey, I get it.

SALIE: All right. Because when my brothers would fight, it would just end - one of them would just fart in the other one's face. And that's how they decided things.

METHOD MAN: (Laughter) You white people are crazy.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: I want to get to what you're doing now because I know, you know, Wu-Tang Clan started years ago. But is it true that you have an enthusiasm for ugly Christmas sweaters?

METHOD MAN: Yeah, I'm actually selling one now. Good plug. I love that.

SAGAL: You're welcome.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So, I mean, forgive me. I did not know that ugly Christmas sweaters was part of '90s hip-hop culture. Is this a new thing for you?

METHOD MAN: No, it's kind of like tradition. Everybody should own an ugly Christmas sweater. Method Man on sale now - uglychristmassweater.com.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Wait a minute.

O'ROURKE: All right.

SAGAL: You, Method Man, one of the premier hip-hop artist of the '90s, has a website called uglychristmassweater.com where you sell ugly Christmas sweaters?

METHOD MAN: Well, they have a variety of ugly Christmas sweaters. Backslash Method Man - you'll get mine.

SAGAL: There you go.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: What did you have to do with it? I mean, did you knit the sweaters?

METHOD MAN: I didn't knit them at all. You know, we have people on board to do stuff like that. Come on. I'm a...

POUNDSTONE: You know, white people knit their own, Method Man.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: When they're not farting aggressively in one another's faces, what they do is they knit.

SAGAL: Yeah, I...

POUNDSTONE: This has been so culturally instructive, I think.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Before we get to the game, I do want to ask you about your other new project, which is - I don't know if you want to call it - a performance show, a game show - "Drop the Mic." Tell me what it is.

METHOD MAN: It's basically, say, a performance show for aspiring - or people that are in the entertainment field that have always wanted to be MCs. I know a lot of people, you know - they used to sing in the shower.

SAGAL: Yeah.

METHOD MAN: Well, nowadays, they see MC in the shower. And we're just giving them a platform to, you know, show their skills and maybe, you know, disrespect the opponent while they're at it.

SAGAL: I have to say I watched a few of them. I saw one between James Corden - it was one of your producers - and Halle Berry of all people.

METHOD MAN: Yes.

SAGAL: And first of all, I didn't know Halle Berry could rap. She's pretty good.

METHOD MAN: Yeah, she's pretty good.

SAGAL: And secondly, it's vicious.

METHOD MAN: Yeah, of course. Absolutely. And you know what I love about Halle? She took it because they - we let them know exactly what's going to be said beforehand before they - and she was cool with everything.

SAGAL: Yeah, but she laid into James Corden. I would've died (laughter) where I am.

METHOD MAN: Not if I wrote for you, brother. You would've been itching to go.

SAGAL: Oh, really?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, I figured that because are you - I have to admit I saw a bunch of them. The raps are so good.

METHOD MAN: Yeah. We have actually...

SAGAL: I'm assuming that you were doing them with other experience rappers.

METHOD MAN: ...Hired actual battle rappers to write.

SAGAL: Oh, I see.

METHOD MAN: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: Can you give us an example of what someone might do in the shower?

SAGAL: Well, no. you...

METHOD MAN: (Laughter) You know, they could be reciting - for instance, the first rap song I ever learned was Run-DMC's (rapping) two years ago, a friend of mine asked me to say some MC rhymes. So I said this rhyme I'm about to say. The rhyme was deaf, and it went this way. You could say that one, Paula. Easy.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: There you go. I could introduce you to rap for white people. It's called "Hamilton."

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: I love "Hamilton."

METHOD MAN: Shout-out to Lin-Manuel.

SAGAL: Yeah.

SALIE: Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah.

METHOD MAN: Everything he's doing.

SAGAL: He's amazing. Well, Method Man, it is a pleasure to talk to you. We have asked you, though, here to play a game we're calling...

BILL KURTIS: To Act It, You Have To Be It.

SAGAL: ...Well, you're known as Method Man, and you are a fine actor. So we thought we would ask you about method acting.

METHOD MAN: Oh, man.

SAGAL: You know, this is the famous technique.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, basically, instead of pretending, you actually try to be the character. Answer 2 out of 3 questions about brilliant method actors, and you win our prize for one of our listeners, the voice of anybody they hear here on this show. Bill, who is Method Man playing for?

KURTIS: Maria Dent of Syracuse, N.Y.

SAGAL: All right. You ready to do this?

METHOD MAN: Yeah, I'm ready.

SAGAL: Here we go. Now, to prepare for his role in the World War II drama "Fury," famed actor Shia LaBeouf did what in the name of realism? Was it A, he refused to bathe for four months, resulting in him being banished from the cast hotel; B, he arranged a boxing match with an avowed Nazi before filming, so he could punch him or C, for an entire year prior to filming, he refused to speak a word that was coined after 1944?

METHOD MAN: I'll go with A.

SAGAL: You're going with A. You're right. He did.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Shia LaBeouf refused to bathe because his character, a tanker in World War II, couldn't bathe, and Brad Pitt threw him out of the cast hotel because he stank so bad.

METHOD MAN: (Laughter).

SAGAL: True story. All right. Next question. Sometimes, method acting can get a little too real as when up-and-coming actor Shia LaBeouf prepared...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...For his role in the "Wall Street" sequel "Wall Street Money Never Sleeps," by doing what? A, he did an estimated 8 kilos of cocaine...

O'ROURKE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: B, he made $300,000 in the stock market, then he saw half the people who helped him get arrested for insider trading or C, he worked for three months as a late-night cleaning crew member at Goldman Sachs, and he rifled through the wastebaskets to look for secrets?

METHOD MAN: I don't know this one. Let's go with C.

SAGAL: You're going to go with C. No, in this case, it was actually B. He says that to learn his role as a trader, he started trading money. He made $300,000. And it turns out that the hedge fund guys he was talking to - half of them got arrested for insider trading.

METHOD MAN: Wow.

SAGAL: So he had money and scandal. It was good preparation. Last question. Sometimes, method acting doesn't work out, as when noted actor Shia LaBeouf...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...Got himself fired from what would have been his Broadway debut in a play called "Orphans" by doing what? A, he insisted on pronouncing all the S letters in the script as Fs because, quote, "that's how Shakespeare did it"; B, he refused to rehearse unless the theater was filled each and every time with paid pretend audience members or C, he convinced co-star Alec Baldwin that he was actually crazy?

METHOD MAN: I think C.

SAGAL: You're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Shia explains that his character in the play was supposed to intimidate Baldwin's character. So he actually tried to do that, including by following Baldwin home at night. And Baldwin did not like that. And Shia left the show.

Bill, how did Method Man do on our quiz?

KURTIS: He had the right method, and he got two right, which is a win.

POUNDSTONE: There you go.

SAGAL: Congratulations.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Well done. Method Man's show "Drop the Mic" airs Tuesdays on TBS. Method Man, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

(APPLAUSE)

METHOD MAN: Thank you for having me.

SAGAL: Thank you, man. It's great to talk to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "C.R.E.A.M.")

RAEKWON: (Rapping) Staying alive was no jive. Had secondhands. Mom's bounced on old man. So then we moved to Shaolin land.

SAGAL: In just a minute, Ho, ho, ho. You are high, high, high in our Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.

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