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Fred Durst Shares His Thoughts on Fatherhood, Gender Equality and Directing Ice Cube in "The Longshots"
By Allison Kugel, Senior Editor - August 20, 2008

Fred Durst
Fred Durst
Taking in a screening of the film The Longshots starring Ice Cube and Keke Palmer, I was struck by its poignant portrayal of a young girl who makes it to the Pop Warner Football League’s Superbowl as the first and only female football player to ever be a part of its league. Based on the real life of Jasmine Plummer, The Longshots tackles (no pun intended) the issues of absentee fathers, single parent households, adolescence and sexual equality, all while managing to be uplifting and family friendly.

I was more struck, however, by the knowledge that Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst directed this heartfelt, character driven feature film. Certain adjectives typically come to mind when one hears the name Fred Durst, or better, sees his trademark red carpet image: tattoos, backwards baseball cap, and flipping the bird while expressing some degree of generic angst. Such paparazzi shots are plentiful online, but perhaps they have all been for effect, or perhaps Fred Durst has simply moved on. Somewhere between sharing his hardcore version of George Michael’s “Faith” and belting out “Nookie,” Durst decided that he was an artistic filmmaker trapped inside the body of a rock star. And to his credit, he may be on to something.

Outwardly speaking, The Longshots seems like an unlikely project for Durst’s first studio film pick… that is unless you have ever spoken with him. Five minutes into a conversation with Durst and you discover that either the media has gotten it wrong, or the sands of time have simply reshaped the budding director, smoothing out some of his rougher edges. The Fred Durst I spoke with is very soft spoken, almost timid at times, and prefers heartfelt family fare to the darker and racier stories that Hollywood assumed he would be chomping at the bit to direct. In all fairness, it was another reformed bad boy, rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube, whose involvement with the script first attracted Durst to directing The Longshots.

After learning about his younger years, some of the similarities between the story of Jasmine Plummer and Fred Durst’s own childhood and adolescence did not escape me, and I suspect they did not go unnoticed by Durst either.

PR.com (Allison Kugel): I know that you’ve wanted to direct films for quite a long time, even when you were making music with Limp Bizkit. What made you choose The Longshots and the story of Jasmine Plummer as your first studio film?

Director Fred Durst & Actor Ice Cube in The Longshots
Director Fred Durst & Actor Ice Cube in The Longshots

Fred Durst: After reading the script and then hearing that Ice Cube was attached. And, I loved the script because it had a lot of heart. I have an understanding of what it’s like to not have certain role models in life, where that void can be there and you’re just getting by. Then to have something come along that’s your salvation, or that becomes your salvation, like football was for Jasmine Plummer. And, how along with it came something to fill that void of hers. I just thought it had a lot of heart and I really respond to stories with a lot of heart. And, then after meeting Ice Cube and hearing that he wanted to do something a little different and produce a family movie. When I hear the words “family movie” I get a little scared just because, I love family films and I always have and my children watch family films, but sometimes they’re a little dumbed down, you know? Sometimes they’re made just for kids. I wanted to make a film that not only younger people could enjoy, but also one that adults could enjoy themselves.

PR.com: I actually wouldn’t call it a family film, per se. To me it almost seemed to be along the lines of a Rocky kind of a movie.

Fred Durst: Awesome. You’re one of the few. I think it’s like a Hoosiers meets a Rudy meets a little tinge of Mighty Ducks and a little tinge of the first Bad News Bears. That’s the feeling that I really wanted the film to feel like. And, when I say a “family film,” I mean that it got embedded in me so hard by everybody else involved in the film saying, “Kids have to enjoy this film!” If you see the way they’re marketing the movie, it’s very important for them to get kids in the movie theatre.

PR.com: You mentioned before that you could relate to Jasmine Plummer in her missing a role model and needing something to fill that void. I know that you also grew up without your biological father, so I’m sure that you could relate to her story quite a bit.

Fred Durst: How’d you know that? Is that information out there?

PR.com: I do my homework.

Fred Durst: I guess the information is out there. When you don’t have your biological [parent] there’s a distance and a gap. If I’m speaking about my experience as a child and growing up with one parent who isn’t your biological parent, I don’t think that just putting a roof over your head is enough.

PR.com: What filled that void for you growing up?

Fred Durst
Fred Durst

Fred Durst: It became art. It became realizing that I love being an artist. It wasn’t just music or just wanting to make films or just being a great dancer or graffiti artist or skateboarder. I found outlets in art that I just discovered myself. In that way, I unfortunately didn’t have a person to give me that fatherly understanding and connection that I needed as a boy.

PR.com: Has that been something that’s been important to you as a parent, to give to your kids?

Fred Durst: Yeah. I definitely broke the cycle with my children, one hundred percent. I think I’m going extremely the other way (laughs)! You know, sometimes to break the cycle I might overdue it a little bit, but I know how sensitive I was. [I know] how I just sometimes needed to be able to cry, or to be able to be someone who needed somebody to hug him or to understand him, or hear him out and listen to him. I never want to have my children ever experience not having that.

PR.com: When you’re making a biopic and you’re dealing with somebody’s true story as opposed to a work of fiction, how does that change the dynamic? And, what kind of input did you get from the real Jasmine Plummer and from the real Curtis Plummer in making The Longshots?

Fred Durst: On this particular biopic, the seed of the story of Jasmine Plummer really being a girl and trying out for the local Pop Warner [football] team, who made it on the team as a quarterback, and was able to go to the little mini Pop Warner Superbowl and be a quarterback, that’s what this is based on. So, all of the in-between we had to, after researching the city and having the small amount of people we could get in touch with that were even around, and anything we could put together in the story itself, we had to kind of fill in the blanks. That’s why it’s based on a true story. We met the real Jasmine Plummer a pretty good way into shooting. She came to the set and she was very shy, really sweet, and had this huge smile on her face all the time. She was so overwhelmed and so cute. I was very refreshed seeing that my instincts were correct to go with Keke [Palmer]. The kind of girl I would like to see go through this experience and where I wanted Keke to go with it, Keke figured out where to go without ever meeting the real Jasmine Plummer. She’s very vulnerable and sweet, and there’s just something about [Keke] that’s special. She has her own hang-ups from what life has dealt her and she’s just taking each day as it is. After meeting the real Jasmine Plummer, I was very refreshed because [Keke] is so close to being how the real Jasmine really is.

PR.com: Their personalities?

Fred Durst: Yeah. I couldn’t believe it. I was just like, “Oh my God!” Because ideally I would have loved to spend a lot of time with the real Jasmine Plummer and hear her story. So, I was very pleasantly surprised to see that we kept the integrity of who Jasmine Plummer was. I think the real Jasmine Plummer seeing Keke [Palmer] act, and being on the set, she felt really good about it too, from what I could tell.

PR.com: Did Jasmine get a chance to see the finished film?

Fred Durst: Not that I know of. I think we’re going to have her to the premiere.

Ice Cube & Keke Palmer star in Fred Durst's The Longshots
Ice Cube & Keke Palmer star in Fred Durst's The Longshots

PR.com: What’s your stance on girls and women being involved in male dominated sports, or in male dominated professions?

Fred Durst: When I hear the words male dominated, it makes me really think why it’s male dominated. Football is a very physical sport. It’s very barbaric. Just from my perception of life, in general, I don’t know a whole bunch of women who have that physical barbaric nature. But, there is in that sport a lot of skill, a lot of technicalities, and a lot of things that make it the sport as well. I would love to see a woman in the NFL!

PR.com: (Laughs) Really?

Fred Durst: Yeah, because if she has that about her and it’s just in her nature that she can contend with these big muscle bound men ready to knock someone’s head off, and all that comes along with a bunch of guys in pads and helmets out there just crushing each other on the field… if she has that about her, I’d love to see that, because that’s amazing. It would just be amazing, and if you have it, do it.

PR.com: I flip flop back and forth on it, like, even when you see female police. I remember I once had these two female police officers pull me over. It was just the two women in the patrol car. On one hand I’m thinking, “Wow, that’s awesome.” On the other hand I’m thinking, “Can they defend themselves?” If I was some three hundred pound dude that they were pulling over and something happened, how would that work out?

Fred Durst: I know exactly what you mean. There’s just something that excites me about how unbelievable it would be if a woman came in and was an equal contender, and just rocked and kicked ass, and just did it. I also think, even in our legislature and in ruling our country, I was excited to think that a woman might be the president…

PR.com: Ditto…

Fred Durst: … Just because it was something we’ve never seen. So, for that factor I like it. I think the male dominated theme… there’s an underlying reason, you know? Overall, I think there are always exceptions. I think Jasmine Plummer is an exception and very talented. She actually still plays sports in real life, football and things.

Ice Cube & Keke Palmer star in Fred Durst's The Longshots
Ice Cube & Keke Palmer star in Fred Durst's The Longshots

PR.com: Was it an uphill battle transitioning from being a musician into directing feature films, or did doors open fairly quickly?

Fred Durst: I think as a filmmaker it’s always an uphill battle from what I’ve experienced, just in general. But me being a musician, and I think from me actually being Fred Durst in Limp Bizkit, definitely makes me a fish swimming upstream because I’m interested in making films that have a lot of heart. I do have a diverse, broad taste and I want to make different types of film, but none of them are what people would think I would make, like some slasher horror film, or whatever they would predict. But, what music did for me was help me get into meetings, helping me to get my foot in the door to get the meeting. But, that’s not enough, just getting in the door and getting the meeting. You have to go into the meeting and you have to win. You have to go in, and you have to leave that meeting with those people thinking, “Oh my God! This guy is nothing like I thought!” That’s the challenge and that was my process. Getting the meetings, it seemed like some people just took the meeting because they would get their kicks out of it, or for the novelty of it.

PR.com: Just to meet you.

Fred Durst: Yeah, or just to see how I was, or was I serious. They realized I was very serious. I think it threw a lot of people. So, I was able to gauge in those meetings, also, going, “Wow, I don’t even want to work with this person, so I’m gonna pass.”

PR.com: So, you were filtering people out as well.

Fred Durst: Yeah, I was filtering as well because once you get in the door and they realize, “This guy is serious about making films,” then when you hear them you’re like, “You know what, you’re not serious enough for me.” Or, you’re not caring about the things that I’m caring about. We’re not speaking the same language, because I truly care about a lot of things when it comes to film. I want it to be a wonderful experience and a really solid, timeless piece of work; something you can market and brand and it can be commercial, but at the same time it keeps its integrity. It’s credible and it’s real, and the acting’s great. A lot of people don’t want to make movies with all of those types of elements.

Fred Durst
Fred Durst

PR.com: When I walked out of the theatre last night after the screening, more than one person turned to someone else and said, “I can’t believe Fred Durst directed this movie.” I thought that was actually a compliment for you.

Fred Durst: That’s great. I want the work to… just watch the movie and if you enjoyed it, just enjoy it. And, then the “directed by Fred Durst” can come up. If I have any impact on you at all, hopefully it won’t have any impact on what you felt about the movie.

PR.com: What was it like to direct Ice Cube in The Longshots? How much input did he give you, and how much did he lay back and let you direct and run the show?

Fred Durst: It was absolutely amazing working with [Ice Cube]. That was definitely one of the factors that really made me like the script, was after meeting Cube and hearing how serious he was about doing more of a dramatic performance. I’m an actor’s director and I really care about the acting a lot. Cube was able to just let me… I directed the film and he got to be an actor. We got to bond as director and actor. Our chemistry was great and he was very open to my ideas and very trusting of me. We had a great experience, good enough to where we’re dying to make a movie again - a movie that’s not a family movie - together. I think he was happy that he got to just focus on his character. But, as a producer on the film he was also involved with the script. He is very serious about filmmaking. He’s really excited to show his range on the screen, and I think there’s a lot more great stuff to come from Ice Cube.

“The Longshots,” directed by Fred Durst and starring Ice Cube and Keke Palmer, opens in theatres on August 22, 2008. Rated PG. Visit www.thelongshots-movie.com.

To learn more about the Pop Warner youth football league, visit www.popwarner.com.

Fred Durst Shares His Thoughts on Fatherhood, Gender Equality and Directing Ice Cube in "The Longshots"


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