Robert “Bobby” Diggs, aka RZA, spearhead of the ground-breaking hip-hop collective, Wu-Tang Clan, makes his feature film directorial debut with The Man with the Iron Fists.
Diggs is the martial-arts-action-adventure movie’s leading man, composer and co-writer as well.
The Man with the Iron Fists, co-starring Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu and Rick Yune, opens Friday, Nov. 2. Quentin Tarantino, Diggs’ mentor in film directing, is the movie’s official presenter.
“In Quentin’s sphere of things, every once in a while he godfathers a movie,” Diggs said by phone during a three-week promotional tour for the film. “These are films he adds his knowledge and wisdom to. He’s also presenting it to the world, which is a real plus for me.”
Diggs began scoring music for films with 1999’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. His movie-music credits include Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol. 1. During Kill Bill’s production, Diggs asked Tarantino — the auteur behind Inglourious Basterds, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and the upcoming Django Unchained — to be his filmmaking mentor.
“Quentin is a cool dude,” Diggs said. “And he loves Wu-Tang Clan, so he thinks I’m the coolest guy in the world. But I knew that this man is a genius in his field. If I wanted to enter this field, it’s best to learn from a master.”
Tarantino and Diggs watched movies together at the Miramax Films screening room and Tarantino’s house and attended film festivals together.
“It could be a film festival in Iceland,” Diggs recalled.
“I’m on the plane with Quentin and we’re going there. We’ve watched some films and talked about them. It just kept adding to my wisdom about filmmaking.”
Diggs got Tarantino’s blessing to direct in 2010. In accepting the challenge, he assumed multiple responsibilities.
“I never noticed how many things I was doing,” the rapper turned director and screenwriter said. “I had 18-hour days. I got fatigued at certain points, but I kept fighting. Also, I was high off the idea. I was excited, like it was a new girlfriend in my life.”
A fan of martial arts movies since childhood, Diggs realized a long-held dream to make a movie with The Man with the Iron Fists.
“What I love about being behind the camera is that I can drop my own importance and give it to somebody else,” he said. “Russell Crowe, he’s a master at the craft, but even he needs to trust that the director won’t devalue what he does.”