Rudy Huxtable is now a heroin-addicted prostitute.
It sounds like a juicy item for Perez Hilton, but for Keshia Knight Pulliam—who earned an Emmy nod as the most precocious of "The Cosby Show" clan—the role of a troubled streetwalker in "Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail" was a chance to show she's far more than just a cute TV kid.
As Candy, Pulliam has the female lead in a romantic storyline that runs parallel to the antics of Perry’s pot-smoking, pistol-packing alter ego, Madea. Perry's fans have seen a lot of Pulliam lately—she's also a regular on his TBS comedy "House of Payne"—but even they’re likely to be surprised by the maturity and versatility she displays on the big screen.
Metromix spoke with Pulliam about working with two Hollywood icons, preparing to play a drug-addicted hooker and her plans for a “Buck Naked” Internet talk show.
I think a lot of people will be surprised to see you in this role. Were you surprised to be considered for the part?
No, I guess because of the way it happened. Tyler called me and said that he was writing this movie and he had me in mind for the district attorney role. He told me [about the other roles] and I said, “Tyler, I need to be Candy. That is the role for me.” And he said, “If you believe you can do it, I’ll believe in you.”
What was it about the role that made you feel you absolutely had to play her?
It was a challenge. And it was a stretch. I wanted a role that was really going to push me and make me work. I’m very thankful to Tyler and Lionsgate and everyone for believing in me. I knew that a lot of people would have doubt because of what I’ve done previously. But I was up for the challenge. I’m the type of personality that’s going to rise to the occasion.
I’m assuming you had to do some research to understand the character?
I live in Atlanta. I’ve seen the girls. You know what the look is. But in terms of the mentality, I did speak to someone who battled heroin addiction. I connected those emotions to real life experiences. Everyone’s been in situations where they’re like “how did I get here and how do I get out?” Everyone’s had disappointment. If you take those emotions and put them in a pressure cooker it can help, whether you’ve had that specific life experience or not.
You’ve worked now with two men who’ve built their own entertainment empires. Not a lot of entertainers get a chance to do that. Do you see similarities between Bill Cosby and Tyler Perry?
They’re both extremely good businessmen. They both have a vision and believe wholeheartedly in it. And there’s no one who can deter them. They both did what was thought to be the impossible and made it a reality. I’ve learned everything I can from them, you’d be an idiot not to.
Last year there was a lot of talk that maybe “The Cosby Show” played some small part in making the nation ready for President Obama. Do you have a personal take on that?
“The Cosby Show” opened the door to showing us as people, how much more alike we were than different. It was unheard of for people in general to grasp the concept of a family that was African-American and had a doctor, a lawyer and lived in a nice brownstone in a nice area. It did open the door to allow people to think that it could be possible. And Obama is the ultimate realization that there’s nothing that’s beyond your reach. The whole, “I can’t, it won’t happen,” doesn’t exist.
Do you still see your “Cosby” “brothers and sisters” once in a while?
Actually, I do. Tempestt [Bledsoe, “Vanessa”] and Malcolm [Jamal Warner, “Theo”] I keep in touch with the most. We were on the show for eight years together. So it is very much kind of like a family, you know.
What kind of stuff do you guys do?
We go to dinner, regular stuff. Same stuff you do.
Do you give each other family advice?
Yeah. I don’t have any older sisters, or any sisters period. In a lot of ways Tempestt has been that to me.
Do you have people coming up to you, quoting lines from the show?
Oh my gosh all the time. That happens daily, daily. Most people are pretty cool about it, you just have a couple stray special ones. It all comes with the territory.
Who was the most special?
Shoot, I’ve had random stalker type people. Those things…uh, no thank you. But I appreciate that I’ve been able to have an impact on people’s lives. It means a lot to me, as an actress that’s what I want to do.
What’s next for your career wise?
Right now I’m focusing on my production company, Pullpenn. I’ve been in this business a long time and I understand the value of creating projects for yourself. Ultimately that’s how you can do exactly what you want to do. Instead of waiting around for someone to say “hey I have a role for you,” you can create it yourself.
And you’re working on projects for the web?
The first thing is going to be a relationship talk show. It’s called “Buck Naked in Bubbles.” It’s definitely very classy.
Where did the title come from?
You know, you’re sitting around…it’s just one of those things that naturally evolved. We thought it was a hoot.
Is that something you’re gonna host by yourself or with a friend?
You’re going to have to tune in to pullpenn.com to see!
Q&A: Keshia Knight Pulliam
Rudy Huxtable’s all grown up and working for Tyler Perry
By Geoff BerkshireMetromix
February 17, 2009
Rudy Huxtable is now a heroin-addicted prostitute.
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