Antoine Fuqua Remembers His “Gangsta’s Paradise” Days

Antoine Fuqua Remembers His “Gangsta’s Paradise” Days

For this week, Training Day director Antoine Fuqua has sat down with SOHH to discuss everything from rappers striving for Oscars to why he recruited cast members from “The Wire” to star in his latest film, Brooklyn’s Finest. In this second exchange, Fuqua reflects on directing the classic 1990’s music video,”Gangsta’s Paradise.”

Please explain how the ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ music video came together and how in the world you got Michelle Pfeiffer involved.

“That was cool, a good experience man. That set off a lot of things for me because at the time, I was doing a lot of commercials. I had stopped doing videos for a while. Jerry Bruckheimer called me up to do that video. And when I spoke to Bruckheimer, I wanted to move into movies, so I said if I could put Michelle Pfeiffer in the video, would she do it. He said, ‘Well, I’ll give you her number, call her.’ I called her man and it was wild, and she was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it, how much time do you need?’ We talked about it, I told her what I wanted to do, sent her over a synopsis, and I shot the video, put a lot of different cats in it and then I directed it for a day.”

Bruckheimer previously explained how his work with Fuqua on “Gangsta’s Paradise” led to their later involvement in the film King Arthur.

“Antoine worked with me on the video, ‘Gangstar’s Paradise’, and that song thing he did for Dangerous Minds,” Bruckheimer said in a past interview. “This was before he was doing features and I thought he was really good. I wanted to work with him. When I saw his work and saw Training Day, I said this movie needs that kind of edge of reality. That’s what I wanted – a real gritty film. He loved it.” (Blunt Review)

So wait, you’re responsible for getting Michelle featured in the music video, it was ‘your’ idea? [laughs]

“They called me and couldn’t figure out how to put together a campaign, with the commercials, with the movie, it wasn’t working. So I took the video and turned it into a commercial. And people, for whatever reason, went through the roof, the song went through the roof, I got an MTV Award for the video, it was crazy. Yeah, I just wanted Michelle in the video, I wanted to direct a movie star, I wanted to prove I could handle a movie star. It was short form, but it was still on tape. So I took what I could do and saw what I could get out of her, a movie star. And that’s a big thing because coming out of videos and commercials, you’re giving away a product or a rapper or a singer or a rock band and to actually direct an actor of that level as well, at that time I was a younger cat, it sent a signal through Hollywood and she said a lot of nice things about me.”

The video went on to later win an award in the mid-1990’s and helped spark Fuqua’s career.

The music video for the song was directed by Antoine Fuqua of Propaganda Films, and featuredMichelle Pfeiffer reprising her earlier role in Dangerous Minds. When Coolio won the Best Rap Video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1996, he said in a press conference that Bone Thugs-n-Harmony deserved the award for “Tha Crossroads”. (Wikipedia)

Check out Antoine Fuqua’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” music video below:

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