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The RZA, now in auteur flavor

November 23, 2010 |  7:00 am

Rza

His movie  may not have exactly attracted a huge audience this weekend. But the RZA, the  Wu-Tang pioneer who co-stars with Russell Crowe in "The Next Three Days," took another step toward crossover fame with his turn as a violence-embracing drug dealer in the Paul Haggis film.

It's a bit of a different turn than the hip-hop star's other roles -- say, as a member of the police force in another Russell Crowe movie, "American Gangster."

"It was a cool thing to do, a chance to bring out some toughness and a chance to be the aggressor," the RZA says of his new part.

The Staten Island, N.Y., Grammy winner says that the movie, set in a tough part of Pittsburgh not far from where he spent a part of his childhood, hit a little close to home. "Some of the scenes we shot were in a place called the Hill, and as we're walking through, we're seeing a lot of people living in poverty. And I thought, 'I lived in that kind of poverty.' I ran into a guy I knew who did time in jail."

The music star is now putting himself on a different kind of hot seat -- that of director -- as he prepares to shoot  "The Man With the Iron Fist," a martial-arts film he wrote with Eli Roth that will be set and shot in China, and that Crowe will star in. "It's 10 times the focus, 10 times the pressure of putting out an album," the RZA says. "Also 10 times the blame.'

The singer-turned-director says that it's the attention to detail that's been keeping him up nights. "There are so many meticulous things you have to pay attention to. I'm loving it. But I see why some directors do it every two or three years. It's not for the meek."

But those hoping to see a return to the screen for the hip-hop artist may be in for a disappointment:; RZA says that, at the moment, he doesn't plan on starring in the kung-fu film. "I'm Captain Kirk," he said. "If I can find Mr. Spock, I can beam down. But for now I gotta stay in the bridge."

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Russell Crowe, left, and the RZA in "The Next Three Days." Credit: Lionsgate

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