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THE LIMELIGHT: EXCLUSIVE: TV’s ‘Old Spice’ Guy, Isaiah Mustafa, Stars In Latest “Madea”

 By Darlene Donloe

 

 

It’s no secret that Isaiah Mustafa is a good-looking, sexy man that, no doubt, smells very good.


His fame has increased and his star has risen at a meteoric pace ever since his comical, yet sultry, 2010 Old Spice TV campaign,  “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” hit the airwaves.  The four commercial spots he appears in broke records with views, resulting in an Emmy® win for “Best TV Commercial.”


In short order he has become Hollywood’s “It” guy.


Women want him and, if men have any sense, they want to smell like him. 


With all the hoopla, the 37-year-old, who played receiver for the Seattle Seahawks and in NFL Europe, hasn’t let it all go to his head. In fact, he seems to genuinely be taking it all in stride as he goes about building his showbiz career.


Some of his television credits include: “Ugly Betty,”  “Love Bites,” “Chuck,” “Hot in Cleveland,” “Eli Stone, “NCIS,” “Days of Our Lives” and “Castle.” Later this summer he’ll be seen in the film, Horrible Bosses,” starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and Kevin Spacey.


Currently, Mustafa is starring in Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” in theaters nationwide.

 


I caught up with the incredibly personable Los Angeles native recently to discuss the movie and his career.


DD: Why did you want to be a part of this movie?

IM: I just thought it was a fun movie.  At first I wanted to see how many scenes my character, Calvin, was in.  Once seeing it was 85 percent of the movie, I thought, “all right” this is great.


DD:Your character has to endure a lot from his tyrannical wife. She’s a bit much.

IM:Calvin’s voice has to be strong delivering the message.  You can never think it’s too much, you have to take that abuse and verbal beating for a greater cause, which is keeping the family intact.


DD: Can you relate to anything about your character?

IM: I can relate to Calvin.  I have five sisters and have seen their relationships and how the men in their lives have been beneficial, or kicked to the curb for not pulling their weight.  I can relate that way. I’ve never had a woman treat me this way but, I have observed as an outsider.


DD: Why did you want to be an actor?

IM: I wanted to be an actor because I like to play.  I like make believe. I like getting into the mind of another person without really getting into another person’s mind.  In relationships you can be co-dependent and take on another’s personality. I like to be able to do that with no consequences and repercussions.  I also like the art of it. I like being able to tell stories via human interaction.  I love to make people laugh too.


DD: What did you expect from Hollywood and what did you get?

IM: From Hollywood I expected nothing.  I had no expectations.  I grew up in Hollywood.  I always thought Hollywood was how the rest of the world was - until I left Hollywood.  In Los Angeles you can do anything and get away with anything.  I think I’m getting from Hollywood more than most get, so I am lucky.  It takes 10 years for an overnight success. I’m on year 10.


DD: How do you keep all this craziness in perspective?

IM: Day by day I keep balanced.  I’ve seen people’s heads get inflated, but as easily as it’s given to you, it can be taken away.  I keep level headed and down to earth.


DD: How do your fans react when they see you on the street?

IM: Fans are great.  They are nice and kind. Sometimes they say crazy things, but you have to put yourself in their positions.  I get it.  From what they see on TV, I get how they react. 


DD: Do you prefer film or television?

IM: TV is more lucrative but film is where I want to be.  You get a longer time to really develop your character and get to grow over the course of a movie.  I’m sure in TV you grow in a different way in a season, but not the same way you do in film. 


DD: Talk about working with Tyler Perry.

IM: Working with Tyler for the first time was great.  He is very patient, always made sure I was prepared, knew what I was doing.  I’ve heard stories of Tyler yelling, but I never experienced that.  He plays and jokes, but when it’s time to work, he buckles down and gets to it.

 

DD: How do you see your career unfolding?

IM: If I can have a career like Will Smith or Denzel…that’s the pinnacle.  As long as I can continue to make people see something in themselves, laugh, cry—some sort of effect, then I’m doing what I want to do.


DD: What is the worst part about the biz?

IM: There is nothing I hate about the business.  I love every aspect.  Mostly I love the process of auditioning.  This is the only time you have a chance to give your idea of a character.  That first time you do it is what you bring to the table before they tell you to tweak it or what not.


DD: Any desire to direct?

IM: I definitely want to direct.  Again, I like creating and make believe.  I want to tell a story in different ways, which I am learning now.


DD: Do you like the direction Black film is going in?

IM: I don’t have anything negative to say about the way black film is going.  It’s all cyclical and a process. Everyone has their vision of how it should be—and we should take that vision and do our thing.  Each person has a different message—and no one is better or worse, they are two different visions.  There is a place for all these visions.  Who is anyone to say anything negative?


DD: Which is/was tougher, navigating through Hollywood or playing sports?

IM: Playing sports was tougher.  Hollywood is fun. There is so much promise, anything can happen any day.  Things can change at any minute.  In sports, you really need to hone your skill and be good, and you still may not make it.  In acting and entertainment, if you strive and really shine, you will rise to the top.  It’s rare to see an amazing actor in a film and say, “who is that guy?”  He gets noticed.


DD: Where will you be opening day of “Madea’s Big Happy Family?”

IM: Opening day I will be in New York.  I may go to the theater.  I do want to see it with a Tyler Perry audience because they will get it.


Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” written, produced and directed by Tyler Perry (Lionsgate) stars Loretta Devine, Shad “Bow Wow” Moss, David Mann, Cassi Davis, Tamela Mann, Lauren London, Rodney Perry, Shannon Kane, Teyana Taylor, Natalie Desselle Reid and Perry as “Madea” and “Joe”.


The movie is rated PG-13 for drug content, language and some mature thematic material. Running time: 106 minutes

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