With Eminem enjoying critical and commercial success with his feature film debut in “8 Mile,” another rapper will soon be testing his mettle on the big screen. Andre Benjamin — better known as Dre, one-half of the multiplatinum-selling hip-hop duo Outkast — has signed on to star in his first feature film, “Love Hater,” which Morgan J. Freeman will direct.
Shannyn Sossamon (“The Rules of Attraction”) is in negotiations to join the film, production on which is set for a late-March start in Outkast’s home base of Atlanta. The project is scheduled for release shortly after Benjamin’s debut solo album, due out next year under the same title, which will feature a song by the same name as well.
Set in the mid-1970s, “Hater” is the story of upper-middle-class musical prodigy Valentine (Benjamin) and lower-class free spirit Chevon (Sossamon), whose families don’t want them to be together. The stakes go up when an accidental shooting caused by Chevon’s racist brother forces the lovers to go on the run.
“I’ve been planning on making a film in the vein of ‘Badlands,’ ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ and ‘Midnight Cowboy’ for years — a character-driven adventure that feels as if it were actually made in the ’70s,” Freeman said. “I’m extremely excited to work with [Benjamin], whose message behind his solo single ‘Love Hater’ is the same as my vision of the film’s message. Both are asking the same questions — questions we don’t understand regarding love and how it can hurt us more than help.”
Benjamin also will provide original music for the film’s soundtrack, which will be independently financed. Outkast’s latest album, the best-of compilation “Big Boi and Dre Present… Outkast” (LaFace/Arista), peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 18 on The Billboard 200. The group’s last studio set, 2000’s “Stankonia,” peaked at No. 2 on the R&B/Hip-Hop tally and The Billboard 200.