Heís been making us laugh for years on shows like All That, Kenan & Kel, and Saturday Night Live. Now Kenan Thompson is starring in Fat Albert, the movie version of the classic cartoon show. Kenan dished about the movie and shared his memories of his school years with IML.
IML: Were you a big fan of the Fat Albert cartoon show when you were younger?
Kenan: It was a cool little show and when the idea came around to do the movie, I was like, ĎThatís a great idea, thatís it!í
IML: How did you get the part?
Kenan: The first time I auditioned, I didnít get the part. Fat Albert was supposed to be the tallest person in the gang, like 6í5Ē. But they changed directors and ended up wanting to go in a different way and wanted to go with the humanitarian part of the character. Thatís where I came in. I think I got the part because they wanted someone with some charm and charisma coming through.
IML: Do you have anything in common with Fat Albert?
Kenan: We both care about people. Heís more of a hero and humanitarian type than I am. I help people but he takes it to the extreme, coming out of the TV to help people.
IML: Tell us about your huge Fat Albert costume.
Kenan: Ugh, it weighed something like 30 pounds! And it was unbelievably hot. I never drank so much water in my life! I would sweat through a couple of shirts a day. I had like 30 sweaters and 30 pairs of pants. It took ten minutes to get into the fat suit and maybe another five minutes or so to put the clothes on. The wig took 30 minutes.
IML: What were your favorite scenes in the movie?
Kenan: My favorite scenes were all the scenes with Dania Ramirez, who plays Lauri. Sheís great. And hanging out with the gang was cool, when we were all together.
IML: Did you know any of the other actors before the movie?
Kenan: Some of us did. We all got along really well. We pretty much jumped in with both feet. Everyone was pretty excited about the project so we had a good time.
IML: How about the dancing? How long did it take to learn the choreography?
Kenan: We picked it up in about a day and a half, but I had to practice. I was nervous before shooting it because all the extras were there and I didnít want to look like a fool in front of so many people! I couldnít do certain steps but I was there, I kept up with the other guys.
IML: Did you do your own singing?
Kenan: Yes! It was my first time singing in a film.
IML: Were you nervous when you met Bill Cosby for the first time?
Kenan: Yeah, I was, actually. I didnít know what to say to him. I almost ran him over with a golf cart. I was driving, and I looked away and when I looked back Bill Cosby was in the middle of the road. I slammed on the brakes. Everybody was there and everybody was excited to meet him so it wasnít all on me. Now, he laughs when I do my impression of him!
IML: What kind of message do you think Fat Albert has for young people?
Kenan: Donít judge a book by its cover, and try not to alienate your classmates.
IML: In the movie, Lauri loves Fat Albert no matter what size he is because of his good heart. Do you think thereís too much pressure on
kids to be thin?
Kenan: Yes. definitely. Thereís a lot of pressure on kids, period, just to be successful in life.
IML: What were you like when you were in school?
Kenan: I was a good student in school. I was always pretty funny with my friends. I didnít want to be the class clown and get in trouble. I was quiet. I played football up until ninth grade but I didnít have my growth spurt until late in high school. I was a senior almost before I started growing. So I quit the football thing and started going to band and wrestling.
IML: Did you date a lot? Were you popular?
Kenan: Yeah, I had a couple of girlfriends. I used to hang out around the dance department because the dance department and the drama department were right next to each other.
IML: Any favorite teachers who made a difference in your life?
Kenan: I would say the person who made a difference for me was Freddie Hendricks, the teacher who taught me drama in high school and got me involved in his theater group. Other people came out of that group, like India.Arie.
IML: What was it like when you were growing up in Atlanta? Are you from a close family?
Kenan: Yeah, most of my family lives in Virginia, actually. Thatís where my parents are from. My grandparents and cousins are up that way. My immediate family is real close-knit.
IML: Were there any obstacles that you had to overcome when you were younger?
Kenan: There are always obstaclesÖitís hard enough finishing school! I tried out for like a million and one commercials before I got my first one. The first commercial I landed was a chicken commercial.
IML: When did you know that you were capable of doing comedy?
Kenan: I kind of knew at a young age, when I was like 9 or 10 or 11. But I had to learn to present funniness to people. I learned that being on Nickelodeon. I knew I wanted to do it as a career when Kel and I got our own show. I figured we were doing something right so I had to figure out how to keep it going.
IML: Did you have any role models or people you looked up to?
Kenan: I looked up to Mr. Cosby, all the comedians like Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor and Chris Rock. I just respect their talent so much.
IML: Who would you like to work with? Any dream co-stars?
Kenan: I would love to work with someone like Jamie Foxx. Martin Lawrence or Eddie Murphy, too!
IML: Do you do any volunteer work?
Kenan: Iím always speaking to schools and stuff like that. A friend of mine is a motivational speaker and I go out with him sometimes and do little programs. I try to tell young people about the importance of being kind to one another and not alienating anybody, to pay attention to each otherís feelings.
IML: Do you have any advice for kids who want to go into show business?
Kenan: I would say, definitely try to do theater or get into a performing arts school. Thatís what worked for me.
IML: OK, thanks, Kenan! Good luck!
Read more about young celebrities in Celebs Say....
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