Talk about a Renaissance Man. Recently named the World’s Best-Dressed Man by Esquire, fashionable pop/hip-hop icon Andre Benjamin will soon be launching his own clothing line. After that, the part-time painter—who works in oils, acrylics and pen and ink—will roll out his latest traveling gallery of artwork, a top-secret series he won’t yet discuss. His Grammy-winning, multi-platinum Atlanta outfit Outkast (where he’s billed as Andre 3000) is also working on a new album, he reports, as well as feature-length film My Life In Idlewild, in which he plays a mortician to his bandmate Big Boi’s club owner. Should be enough to tide over even the hungriest of artists, right?
Far from it. Once film directors caught wind of Outkast’s ultra-hip “Hey Ya!” video—in which Benjamin plays multiple versions of himself—they started tossing movie offers his way, at which point he made a life-changing decision: He rented an L.A. apartment and started studying acting in earnest—a trial by fire that included countless humiliating auditions. “I honestly didn’t see it as me being a music star and jumping into film,” he says. “Because that’s kinda the thing to do now, and I hate that cliché. I wanna be an actor—I don’t wanna be a personality onscreen; I don’t wanna be just me showing up and being myself.”
The method seems to be working. Benjamin did a ?ne comedic turn in Be Cool and a wickedly dramatic stint in John Singleton’s Four Brothers. He will also be appearing in Guy Ritchie’s new guns-blazing comeback Revolver. “I’m a loan shark in it,” he notes. “And Guy Ritchie fans are really gonna be pleased with this one.”
The 30-year-old Benjamin, with his slow Southern drawl, chiseled cheekbones and Bohemian goatee comes across as the epitome of Modern Cool. But all is not as it appears, he confesses. He completely lost his cool when Mrs. Guy Ritchie strolled onto the Revolver set one afternoon. Madonna—a huge Outkast fan—“made me so nervous, I couldn’t continue my scene,” Benjamin swears. “She stepped in during the middle of a scene, they yelled ‘Action!’ and I just forgot all my lines. Thankfully, we had to take a break then, and I had to go wipe off all the sweat. I’d soaked myself!”