In Eddie Griffin's concert film Dysfunktional Family (opening Friday), he recalls how an unconventional upbringing in Kansas City, Mo., inspired his career in comedy. As for the rest of his development as an entertainer, this Undercover Brother credits the black men who paved the way before him. That's why he was eager to fill Sammy Davis Jr.'s shoes for the upcoming biopic Yes I Can.
"The reason the story of Sammy Davis Jr. has to be told is that he was the cat who knocked down the doors," Griffin says, mimicking the Rat Packer's suave tone. "If there wasn't a Sammy, there would be no Michael Jackson. There would be no Puffy Combs."
Though Griffin started in showbiz as a dancer even opening his own studio at age 15 he feels this role will take plenty of prep time. "Sammy did everything but fly," he says. "I gotta brush up on tapping, 'cause I haven't tapped in at least nine years. I gotta learn how to play the drums, the bass. He knew how to play every instrument!"
Griffin is nothing if not ambitious. He just wrapped filming on the hostage movie Blast with Breckin Meyer, where he opted to do all his own stunts. "I took to action like a fish takes to water," the 34-year-old brags. "I did every stunt, 'cause the stand-in they had for me was 40 pounds heavier. That didn't make sense I'm running, fat man's jumping!"
Next up, he does Scary Movie 3, then applies his stuntman skills again in his Enter the Dragon spoof, Enter the 'Hood. "I play the Bruce Lee character," he explains. "Everybody that was Asian in Enter the Dragon is black, with the little Asian wigs on. And the one black character from Dragon that was Jim Kelly is Asian with an afro. It's all going to be subtitled. The only guy that can speak English is the Asian guy, and he sounds like he's from the 'hood." Guess Griffin will need to take Cantonese along with those tap lessons.