Colson Baker, also known as rapper Machine Gun Kelly, is generating serious heat battling Jamie Foxx in the Netflix’s “Project Power.”
Baker’s drug dealer Newt gets so hot taking the mysterious, powerful drug central to the action drama (now streaming), that he combusts. Newt explodes, literally, after Foxx’s character repeatedly dunks his head into bathtub water seeking information – a scene that required Foxx to really plunge Baker underwater.
It’s the latest fateful cinematic bathtub moment for Baker since his electrifying “Bloody Valentine” music video released in May, where girlfriend Megan Fox dropped a hair dryer into the tub water.
“What’s that about, dude? I can’t catch a break in a bathtub,” says Baker, 30. “One death was by girlfriend, the other death was by Jamie Foxx. So, I mean, they’re both pretty awesome deaths.”
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Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman sought Baker out for the “Project Power” role after the “Rap Devil” singer appeared in their last two films, “Nerve” and “Viral.”
The duo simply asked Baker if he could come down to the New Orleans set to play the film’slow-level dealer who handles, and uses, the unnamed drug that unleashes different superpowers with each user.
Newt’s superpower is extreme heat thermoregulation, with the major side effect that it consumes his body in flames while making him lethal. After he pops four pills, his body incinerates, charring him right through the sweatpants. The part required intensive prosthetics placed over 95% of Baker’s body.
“Colson only found out later that he had to sit through five hours of special effects makeup every morning and Jamie Foxx was going to waterboard him in a bathtub,”Joost says. “He probably wished he had asked a few more questions before he agreed.”
“He is the rap devil after all; he’s very comfortable with heat,” Schulman jokes.
Baker, who shaved his blond hair for the look the directors wanted, knew his character was going to be effective during his first lunch break in costume.
“I went out to go pick up a burrito and a lady came up and asked me if she needed me to call an ambulance,” Baker says. “I was like, ‘No, this is just me on a Tuesday, chillin’ with a half-burnt face.'”
To save time and grab valuable sleep, Baker decided to forgo taking the prosthetics off at the end of the day. To his directors’ utter amazement, he slept in the hideous exterior for the final days of filming to avoid more extensive rounds in the make-up chair. Baker showed up feeling refreshed each morning, but looking perfectly Newt gruesome.
He even had time to hit a New Orleans jazz club with his screen foe Foxx in his character’s fully charred make-up, barely concealed by sweatpants, an open shirt and sandals.
“I just looked so ridiculous with everyone looking at this weird, burnt, barefoot guy,” says Baker. “It was really gnarly ’cause we had to obviously request people not take any pictures and give away the character.”
On set, Baker was an even more of bizarre spectacle with “people following him, gluing little pieces of skin back on” that had fallen, Schulman says. Eerily glowing LED lights were placed just beneath the make-up to mark where the flames should be placed for the computer special effects team.
Under the nasty exterior, the directors say Baker showed acting chops and physical prowess, insisting on performing a stunt which saw Newt jump to a floor below while chasing Foxx’s character.
The violent bathtub dunking scene with Foxx was “intense,” Baker says.
“I’m already really claustrophobic and don’t like water,” he says. “I’ve never experienced anything like that. Not being able to breathe, that’s a feeling I won’t miss.”
Foxx broke up the seriousness around the scene by pretending to baptize Baker between scenes.
“God bless Jamie and God bless me now,” says Baker, recalling his Foxx baptism. “I was wondering why these good things started to happen to me out of nowhere.”
Those blessings have included his relationship with Megan Fox, who Baker announced this month that he was dating. Fox, who has referred to Baker as her “twin flame,” was not allowed to see her boyfriend’s burning scenes when they watched “Project Power” together.
“Every time I came on the screen, I’d jump in front of the TV and say, ‘Don’t look at me!'” Baker says. “I’m shy, man. It’s like, before I play her a song, I’ll point out everything that is wrong with it. And then I’ll be like, ‘Never mind. I’m just not going to play it.’ Then she’ll have to force me to play it.”
But on “Power,” he held firm.
“She saw saw none of it. I blocked it the whole time,” Baker says, laughing.
While his next album, “Ticket to My Downfal”, is due out Sept. 25, Baker is stepping up his film acting. Next month, he heads to Montana to shoot the Western “The Last Son of Isaac LeMay” with Sam Worthington.
“It’s about branching out and playing characters that are opposite of what’s expected,” Baker says, before joking, “but I’m going to try to take less roles with CGI, make-up and bald haircuts.”