For high-tech home-theater indulgence, it doesn’t get much swanker than the posh conference room at Universal Music Group’s midtown-Manhattan offices. With its wall-mounted projection screen, bass-blasting surround-sound system, and the best black leather swivel chairs a multinational conglomerate’s money can buy, it’s the perfect place to kick back with a couple of fellow cineasts and view a classic piece of ’70s filmmaking.
There’s just one problem: The room has a strict no-smoking policy, and tonight’s guests, multiplatinum rappers Redman and Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man, are known for having a certain way with weed.
But fire-code formalities are of no concern to Red and Meth (a.k.a. thirtysomethings Reggie Noble and Clifford Smith), longtime buds and stars of Universal Pictures’ campus cannabis romp How High (opening Dec. 21), as they saunter into the miniature movie mecca and instantly light up a suspicious-smelling stogie. Before this evening’s selection — Cheech & Chong’s seminal 1978 stoner comedy Up in Smoke — can begin, the two are passing it back and forth, relieved that they no longer have to make do with the counterfeit cannabis toked on set.
”On the movie, we had to keep it professional,” Method Man says. ”We were smoking cloves.”
”Like, herbal cloves,” scowls Redman, reaching for a hit.
”It was nasty, disgusting,” Method Man says. ”But after a little while, we got used to it. I got a little addicted to that s — -.”
Did he keep the habit up after shooting wrapped?
”Hell no,” he says. ”I got the real s — – now. Smell me! I wish people could smell this interview.”
Part ’80s-style college caper and part Farrelly-style gross-out — call it Revenge of the Herbs — How High chronicles the extracurricular exploits of Silas (Method Man) and Jamal (Redman), two bright-but-baked delinquents who con their way into Harvard and try to turn the mostly lily-white student body on to the green stuff. (Among the pair’s high jinks: digging up the body of John Quincy Adams and putting it in a blender, so as to better smoke his supersmart remains.) Though both ‘Men have supplemented their successful music careers with small acting roles (Method Man in Black and White and HBO’s Oz, Redman in Ride and The Jamie Foxx Show), they appear in almost every frame of How High. Produced by Danny DeVito’s Jersey Films, the film marks the directorial debut of music-video vet (and son of Bob) Jesse Dylan, and also poses something of a marketing challenge for Universal, which, thanks to last year’s FTC crackdown, could have trouble selling the R-rated comedy to its stars’ under-17 fans. ”This film clearly warrants us being prudent in how we go about the marketing,” admits Universal Pictures vice-chairman Marc Shmuger, who says the studio plans to play down the pot use and emphasize the film’s fish-out-of-water elements.
Not that Meth and Red had any problems seeing R-rated movies when they were growing up: ”I was all up in [a friend’s] crib,” says Meth, recalling the first time he saw Up in Smoke. ”They had their room hooked up — the black light, a lot of posters hung up in there, and speakers. We was all up in there getting high, three brothers on the top bunk, three brothers on the bottom bunk, some people on the floor. Just watching this s — – and cracking up. I was 15.”