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Ne-Yo talks ‘Battle: Los Angeles’

For those of you who don’t know, Ne-Yo is a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. In addition to his platinum selling albums and top-10 hits, Ne-Yo has written songs for other huge pop acts, including Rihanna, Beyonce and Justin Bieber.

Ne-Yo’s next project has him step out of the studio and in front of the camera as he stars in the sci-fi juggernaut “Battle: Los Angeles,” which premieres in theaters Friday. The State Press got a chance to talk with Ne-Yo about his experience with the film, training with marines and his love for the martial arts film “The Last Dragon.”

The State Press: You’re an accomplished musician and songwriter. What’s the story behind your move to acting?

Ne-Yo: Acting is just a hobby; it’s just another form of self-expression for me. I’m always looking for a first because if you stay in your comfort zone you’ll lead a long, boring life. Music is my main focus, and I’ll keep doing it until people stop listening. After that I’ll start doing more movies.

SP: Jonathan Liebesman (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Darkness Falls”) is directing the film. How was it working with him?

NY: Jonathan Liebesman is a slave driver but also a perfectionist. He pushes and pushes you but always gets the best out of you. He had us train for the movie with real marines. Boot Camp, 5 a.m. wake-ups, 3 to 6 mile runs; we even ate what they ate. When you see it, though, we look like marines, and it makes for a great film.

SP: You play Cpl. Kevin Harris in the film. Can you tell us a little about him?

NY: Harris is a marine who is engaged and about to get married. He’s a playboy but really just like any other guy. He’s all about camaraderie, which is why he loves the marines. Harris is just enjoying himself when this attack happens, which causes him to focus on the important things in life.

SP: What sets “Battle: Los Angeles” apart from other sci-fi films of this genre?

NY: “Battle” is a film that has heart. There is a lot of attention to character development. You get into the characters' lives and you give a damn about what the characters are going through. Another great aspect of the film is that it’s perfect for anyone who is a fan of games like “(Call of Duty:) Black Ops.” It’s shot like a first-person shooter, which really puts you into the movie.

SP: Who are some of your acting idols?

NY: I like versatility when it comes to acting. I think Jared Leto is a great actor because he’s a character actor. He commits to his roles. I want to be that guy who becomes that person. Tom Hanks is also diverse and he’s able to do everything. Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington are also great.

SP: If you could remake any film and star in it, what film what it be?

NY: I’d have to go with “The Last Dragon,” and I’d play Leroy Green. I’m a martial arts fan and did it for five to six years. It’s such a classic, though, that I’d just want to touch it up. Modernize it a little, but that’s all.

SP: Can you tell us about your next album? What’s the style you’re going for?

NY: I’m still in the process of figuring out the style. My last album, “Libra Scale,” was a journey into uncharted waters. It was more of an experiment, and I want to thank everybody who took a listen to my artsy side. This next album is all about making music that will make people feel things. Love is always an inspiration for me, and love will never go out of style.

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