As Eddie Huang’s coming-of-age film Boogie is set for release this weekend, the director talked about what it was like working with Pop Smoke before his untimely demise and why he wants to dedicate the movie to him now.
“At first I made this film and I was like, ‘Look, this is for my family and this is to represent for all of us overseas Chinese in America,’ but this is Pop’s film,” Huang said in a new interview with Yahoo Entertainment. “It’s absolutely dedicated to Pop. I really miss my brother. Once I met him, the film changed.”
In Boogie, Pop plays the main antagonist Monk, rival to star Taylor Takahashi’s Alfred “Boogie” Chin. The plot centers on Boogie trying to balance basketball and drama at home as he faces pressure from both sides.
When talking about what his first impression was of Pop, Huang spoke about how he felt like the young rapper was fearless in his pursuits.
“He [had] no fear, Pop [wasn’t] scared of anything,” Huang said. “He also probably had the fastest computer processor in his head I’ve ever seen. I could tell Pop something, and he would immediately adapt and make that change. And he didn’t have an ego about it, and he wouldn’t get scared about it. And he wouldn’t have self-doubt about it. He just did it.”
He added, “Pop’s not a dude that would’ve wanted you to be sad. He really [was] a person who was celebrating life all of the time. So happy, very sensitive. Amazing to be around. And a lotta love. He got a lotta love.”
While the film’s soundtrack was originally centered around golden-era hip-hop, Huang decided to pivot and focus on more drill-centric sounds later in development. Pop Smoke’s recently released track “AP” sits at the center of the movie, and the rest of the songs will follow suit, according to Huang.
Boogie opens in theaters this weekend, March 5.