Interview Magazine

Lenny Kravitz
interviewed by
Raphael Saadiq

RAPHAEL SAADIQ: So how did you wind up in Hunger Games?
LENNY KRAVITZ: Gary [Ross] saw Precious and said that he liked the character of Nurse John, so he thought I’d be right for the role in Hunger Games since Cinna is somebody who is looking out for somebody and is a support figure, too. So he called me down here in the Bahamas— I was actually making the album at the time. He said, “Hi, I’m making this movie called The Hunger Games. I think you’d be great. If you want it, you’ve got the part.” No audition. I was really flattered, but I had not read the book. So I downloaded it. I remember I started it late one night and I needed to go to bed—I was tired and had been recording all day and night—but I couldn’t stop reading because I was captured by the story. So I finished the book and called him back and said, “I’d love to do it.” You know, the film definitely represents these times—from government on down to reality television. It’s interesting that we’re living in these times. Really, when you go back to being in junior high school and reading George Orwell’s 1984, you’re, like, “Man, here were are . . .” Our characters have changed, our sensibilities. We’re definitely morphing into something different.

SAADIQ: Do you think anything like The Hunger Gamescould ever actually happen?
KRAVITZ: You know what’s funny? A lot of reality television started in Europe—things like Big Brother, where you had random people living in a house together and all this stuff started happening. And then you had all the gladiator stuff and the competitions. I remember saying, “One day we’re going to watch people fight to the death, like Roman times. Instead of being in a coliseum, we’re going to watch it on TV .” It sounds like a really far-fetched and politically incorrect statement at this point, but who knows how twisted we’re going to get? Because our appetite grows, our thirst for excitement . . . So who knows in the next 50 years where we’re gonna go? Hopefully we’ll go somewhere smarter and more beautiful and more peaceful, but that’s not where we’re headed at the moment. Things that would shock us years ago are like nothing now.


SAADIQ: The title of the record, Black and White America, must have to do with your upbringing.
KRAVITZ: Well, it’s who I am. It’s how I grew up. It’s my parents’ story of being an interracial couple, and everything they went through. It’s also where we are today in America in terms of dealing with this whole racial issue. We’ve moved forward, and there’s an African-American gentleman in office, but now the people who don’t agree with that or don’t like it are showing how they feel. As much as we’ve moved forward, we’re also being pulled back. I’ve always had to deal with being biracial, even in music. When I came on the scene, I’d go to these record labels, and they’d say things like, “Lenny Kravitz. That’s a weird name.” You know, I’m brown-skinned and I’ve got these dreadlocks and I’ve got this Jewish last name. Then I come in with this rock ’n’ roll-oriented music, and it’s not black enough . . . I’ve always had to deal with this black-white thing. Did you see the album cover?

SAADIQ: Yeah, I did.
KRAVITZ: I had no idea what the album cover was gonna be, but I was in Paris with our mutual friend, Mathieu Bitton, and we were going through all these old family albums. Mathieu pulled out this one picture of me as a kid with the peace sign on my head. He’s like, “That’s a dope picture. That should be your album cover.” And the more I looked at it, the more I thought it was interesting because it shows people that I’ve always been this guy. A lot of people might think, “This is a persona that he took on when he came out with Let Love Rule. It’s just an image.” But I’ve always been that guy—from childhood. That picture reminded me of that. I was like, “Wow, I was always talking about peace and love, even when I was a kid.” That’s how I grew up in my family.

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