Interview with Steve Harvey, voice of the horsefly Buzz in Racing Stripes, conducted by Preview reviewer Henry Rogers and other family-friendly media.
Editor’s note: While Preview is pleased with Steve Harvey’s insightful comments and his transparency in this interview, we feel that our readers should be aware of the inconsistent message he delivered on TV recently. Two weeks after the interview, his TV show Steve Harvey’s Big Time featured a contortionist named Rubber Man. When the man put his face into his own groin area, Steve enthusiastically claimed that every man wished he could do that, implying unconventional self-gratification, and that he could have saved hundreds of dollars if he’d had that ability. He stayed on this track for several minutes and, at one point, put his hands together, lifted his head and said, “Thank you, God.”
Q: Where does one go after playing a horsefly?
Steve: It’s pretty much downhill from here (laughter). This is my biggest movie, and I’m a fly.
Q: What was your first thought when they asked you to play a horsefly?
Steve: I mean, you know, I thought it was a joke.
Q: Was religion a part of your upbringing?
Steve: My mother raised me in the church. I was not allowed to stay home on Sunday. It wasn’t an option. My father didn’t go, but he gave us a haircut and made us go. I sang in the choir all the way until I went off to college. I’ve always had God as part of my life. It’s important out here, too, cause it gives you a base, you dig? Cause out here, they have so much for you, so much man. This is like Sodom and Gomorrah. This is sin city, man. If you don’t have a base — you can’t not have a spiritual base and survive this. That’s probably what has kept me out of the tabloids. Then I go home, I’ve got a family, and I keep my wife in front of my head.
Q: Do you stay with other people with the same values to stay grounded?
Steve: It’s just me (laughing). I mean there’s a lot of people out here that talk about it. I was sitting up watching a show one night — and I’m not going to mention the guy’s name — and when he got the award, he said, “I want to thank my lucky stars.” I just looked at him, and I was very confused. I mean what is your lucky stars? These are blessings that we get. Blessings come from God. And you stand up and you win these awards and you sit up and you say stupid stuff. “You know I’m so lucky?” There’s no such thing as luck. These are blessings. God endows them upon you. He makes you a blessing to become a blessing. So you dig? You can’t get in front of people and then be ashamed to tell people about God. You know everybody out here wanted to make it look like something they did. You dig? Like you that funny. Like you that good of an actor. You know, really, really, really not. There is somebody that can act better than you. It’s just that God thought that He could trust you. That if you got there, you would do the right thing with it. He trusted that you would give Him honor and credit. He thought you would do that, so He laid it out there for you. And then you get your stupid butt up there and thank your lucky stars. That’s idiotic to Him. As far as people out here, you know I talk to Cedric (the Entertainer) and Martin (Lawrence) and Chris Tucker who are very spiritually based. We talk all the time about just — I’m going to sound corny you know — but you say, “Hey man, pray for me today cause I’m going through some tough ...” You dig? I mean, you know we ain’t perfect. You know I say some crazy stuff. I cuss every now and then. You know, hey, I ain’t no saint. You dig? And I don’t try to fake nobody like I am. You know, I mean, without God, you’ve got nothing. So you can not mention it if you want to, but it’s going to come back to Him anyway.
Q: Living in the middle of all of this, in Hollywood, and with the changes coming about with things like Mel Gibson’s The Passion and different people here in Hollywood either embracing that or telling him he’s crazy, what is your sense living here about family-friendly movies, like “Stripes” that you just did?
Steve: In Hollywood, you know, see, you gotta watch it, you know, because, um, like they were so upset with Mel Gibson doing this movie, they didn’t want to do it. He had to take his own money to tell this story. When people think you are speaking against them as a group, they try to shut it down out here. I mean you can’t say nothing about nobody out here. This is the touchiest town. This is the most insensitive, sensitive place. You know what I mean? They don’t care what they throw at your kids’ face, but they don’t want you throwing anything in their face. They put sex and violence on TV like it ain’t nothing, man. They let these videos roll out like “Grand Theft Auto” and this new one out where you can kill John Kennedy again, and you got all this stuff, man, on these videos, but then if you say something about them, just them, their little group that runs everything out here, then they’ve got major problems with you. Then all of a sudden, they want to become moral and shut it down, because it’s about them. But they don’t care what they spit out in other people’s cribs around the country. You know they just put stuff in your house, and now you’ve got to get blockers on your TV. You know I gotta sit down with my son and explain something to him, something he saw on a video, cause he was watching it with his older brother. You know, I don’t gotta trip like this, you know. And Hollywood don’t care because it’s about money. Their god is money. Money. Their god is — it ain’t the same thing. There’s a machine out here that’s connected to cash. And if they can make cash, that’s what they’re going to make. And they don’t care that your kids are wrecked by it, you dig? They don’t care that you ain’t got nothing good to watch on TV with your family. They say they do. But as soon as they can put something on that’s a hit that ain’t about their family, it’s going on the air. They’re out here looking for hits. They’re not here looking for family entertainment.
Q: So do you think their minds are changed at all from Mel Gibson’s movie because he made a lot of money off of it. Obviously he took the risk of going ahead and doing this with his own money, and he said he was either crazy or a genius. And do you think that Hollywood heard any of that in terms of how America responded to going to see this movie?
Steve: You know, there are some people out here who are pretty cool, but you’re not going to change the love of money out here. You’re not going to change that. That will go all the way to the end, you dig? Until God changes it and makes a move and just crushes all this mess, they’re going to do it all the way to the end, cause they love money like that, you know, money buy you a lot of stuff. You gotta dig it when your ride pulls you up into a gated crib and you got jewelry on and you’re rocking and you think that’s what life is. If that’s your value system, then that’s it. Mel Gibson has affected some people cause they went, whoa, wait a minute, there are that many people who will pay money to see this? Cause they have no idea. See, you gotta dig. See, Hollywood is run by some people that sit up in executive offices who are not connected to Mississippi, Alabama, Chicago, South Carolina. They don’t know nothing about that. Ain’t never been there. They don’t go to church. And they make their little decision about what they think is right. So, nobody will pay money to see a movie about Christ? Well, Christ is pretty big, you dig? As a matter of fact, He’s the biggest. And so now they do a movie about Him, and they found out that He is the biggest of all time. And they tried to kill the movie with the rating. It’s too much violence. Well, you know, how do you think it happened back then? People don’t like to hear the truth out here cause the truth makes them think.
Q: Do you feel that a lot of your fellow actors, that once they have kids, will change the kinds of movies they’ll participate in?
Steve: Yes, I mean we grow up, you know. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have done this (Racing Stripes), but I got five kids. I got a little seven-year-old at the house and teenagers. My daughters are 22 and in college, you know, and I got to start saying something that they can be proud of, you dig? I’ve cussed a lot, you know, HBO specials and stuff. Then I go to church and “praise the Lord.” You know, you just wanna go, hey wait, whoa, whoa! And as you get older, you know, I think you start looking at mortality. You start thinking that I won’t be here too long, and I want to leave something, you know, for my kids and stuff like that, and you do. You gotta grow up sooner or later. I can’t cuss and tell jokes the rest of my life. I gotta say something meaningful. I gotta give something back to a Creator who has given so much to me, you know. I kinda figured that He trusted that I would do that.