Isaiah Mustafa ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’ Interview with Kam Williams

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Old Spice Pitchman on Breakout Role in Tyler Perry Picture

NFL player-turned-actor Isaiah Mustafa became famous almost overnight in 2010 as the result of starring in a series of Emmy-winning Old Spice TV commercials. Serving as pitchman for the phenomenally-successful “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign also transformed Isaiah into an internet sensation when the ads and several spinoffs subsequently went viral, enjoying hundreds of millions of hits on Youtube.

Soon thereafter, he was named one of People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful People of 2010,” and Tyler Perry announced on Oprah that Isaiah would be playing a lead role in “Madea’s Big Happy Family.” Additionally, he will be seen in July in “Horrible Bosses” opposite Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and Kevin Spacey.

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He currently resides in Los Angeles and when not acting enjoys sports, fitness, gaming, comic books and his two Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Here, Isaiah reflects upon his meteoric rise and his performance as Calvin in the latest Tyler Perry morality play.

Isaiah Mustafa: Hi, how are ya?

Isaiah Mustafa: Other than the fact that I’m in it? [LOL] Everything! What wouldn’t interest me about it? People really love Madea movies and get a kick out of them. They’re phenomenally successful. People get excited when a new one’s coming out. So, for me to be in that also, can you imagine?

Isaiah Mustafa: He’s just a genuinely good guy. If it needs to be done, ask Calvin.

Isaiah Mustafa: For me, it was probably the best possible intro into playing a lead in a movie. The process was very educational for me, and he made it flow naturally. He was both easy to work with and to get along with. So, it was awesome for him to be so patient with me. All in all, it was a really great experience.

Isaiah Mustafa: It was an honor. I was like, “Wow!” and just grateful to have the opportunity to play with so many people whose work I’ve admired for so long.

Isaiah Mustafa: In terms of the takes, we normally rehearse several times over the course of 4 or 5 days so that by the last day it’s like a well-oiled machine. And as far as cracking up, if I laugh halfway through, it would ruin the take and everybody would have to reset. And that reset is about 15 to 25 minutes. So, there’s a lot of pressure to nail it. You don’t want to mess up.

Isaiah Mustafa: In acting, the hits you take are in doing the same thing over and over and over again. Football is different, but at some point you’re going to need a hot bath and a massage after any sort of grueling activity.

Isaiah Mustafa: At some point you just have to give thanks to whatever’s out there controlling the pace, and enjoy the process while it’s happening.

Do you have any aspirations to bring health and fitness to our community, particularly to our youth?

Isaiah Mustafa: I’m not on a council and I haven’t started a non-profit, but being that I have a child in elementary school, I’m always encouraging kids to stay active. My daughter’s doing gymnastics.

Isaiah Mustafa: Old Spice After Hours.

Isaiah Mustafa: [LOL] That’s an interesting question because that implies that I haven’t always been a man. Well, considering that I’ve always been a male, it hasn’t changed all that much. Maybe it’s a little more dynamic. How about that?

Isaiah Mustafa: It’s not that different. Sometimes people come up and talk to me and say they like my work. And I smile back and say, “Thank you.” People are very polite.

Isaiah Mustafa: No, not at all. I don’t think anybody could predict a phenomenon like that.

Isaiah Mustafa: When I was about 5.

Isaiah Mustafa: I really liked Eddie Murphy and Bill Murray. They could entertain me for hours on end. Also Chevy Chase.

Isaiah Mustafa: That’s a tricky question, because I don’t personally know what it’s like not to have an education. And I’ve also seen plenty of people who never attended college become successful in the arts. I think an education is beneficial, but whether it takes an education to be successful in the arts is a whole other question.

Isaiah Mustafa: I don’t answer questions that have religion involved in them, so we can move on to the next one.

Isaiah Mustafa: [Chuckles] It was an honor that someone would categorize me as a beautiful person.

Isaiah Mustafa: Not about stuff I can’t control.

Isaiah Mustafa: At this particular moment, yes.

Isaiah Mustafa: About 10 questions ago when you asked me that crazy question about smelling like a man.

Isaiah Mustafa: The TV show iCarly. I watch it with my daughter all the time.

Isaiah Mustafa: “The Answer” by John Assaraf.

Isaiah Mustafa: Gnarls Barkley.

Isaiah Mustafa: [Laughs heartily] Sorry, I’m not much of a cook. I make a lot of shakes, and eat some fruit, but I generally keep it moving. I don’t sit down and have meal too often, unless I go out for dinner. Right now, I’m on a vegan diet.

Isaiah Mustafa: It’s really basic. Lots of push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. But I’m doing something athletic all day long. [Laughs]

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?

Isaiah Mustafa: John Varvatos and Vivienne Westwood.

Isaiah Mustafa: My reflection through glass that has been pelted with toothpaste, along with a few affirmations that I’ve written on it.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

Isaiah Mustafa: Come on! That’s such a potentially polarizing question. I’d wish for a bag of extra wishes.

Isaiah Mustafa: Wow! I can’t remember.

Isaiah Mustafa: The comic book character Luke Cage.

Isaiah Mustafa: I just want to be remembered.

Isaiah Mustafa: Alright, my man.

Watch Isaiah in Old Spice commercials: