First Look: 'Timeless' Finale Gets a Rufus Rap Salute From Malcolm Barrett (VIDEO)
Malcolm Barrett, who plays Timeless’ irresistible time ship pilot, Rufus — who was shockingly killed last season, but seems to be alive somewhere in some other era — has another life doing music as Verbal the Rapper.
As an homage to Timeless before its wrap-up movie premieres on NBC on December 20, Barrett is offering up a takeoff of Jaden Smith’s "Icon," called "Hero in a Hoodie," an affectionate moniker for Rufus.
TV Insider has the exclusive first look at the video below, and we chatted with the busy actor/singer about how it all came about.
What gave you the idea to do this rap salute to Timeless?.
Malcolm Barrett: I had this idea last year when “Icon” was popular. When we were going to shoot Season 2 of Timeless, I thought how cool would it be to replace “Icon Living, with “Hero in a Hoodie." I got the idea to do the song in front of the time machine but then the production had already moved it and it was at the end of the show and we were basically done.
Then you revived the idea for the movie.
We got this two-hour movie, this second chance, and at the back of my head I was thinking. “I really want to do this and I think it would really easy to shoot the video. “ It’s not a whole bunch of setups, it’s just him in front of the time machine. I told the producers that I’d shoot myself on a iPhone. I’d been working with one of the camera guys, Jorge, who happened to shoot my new video “Hoots,” for my group Verbal + Icarus. We asked one of the first AD’s to be the Steadicam for the video, so I had a relationship with him. I went to the producers and s asked if the time machine was going to stay there. And they said “Yeah. It’s going to be right there. “ I said, “Perfect. I want to shoot this thing now.”
I was expecting to work only two more days , so between takes I started writing the song. Then two or three days later, I was told, “Come in on your day off, and during lunch you can shoot the video." I thought it would just be me and Jorge shooting but I got there and the line producer basically gave me a little team. Then I asked if we could get the lights turned on and they brought in a gaffer to turn on the lights for whenever I jump out of the ship. I basically directed it myself. We did it in three takes, two for rapping and one for some slow motion stuff. My buddy Bobby who’s an editor and a colorist edited it, got to me a couple of days ago, and that was it.
What did you have to offer Claudia Doumit to get her to dance with you in the video?
[Laughs] I’ll get her a free hoodie. Me and Claudia hang out and we’re always being silly. She had actually done that dance for me one time and I got it in my head that we have to get her doing that dance. During lunch break, she came to watch me do the video and I was like, "Claudia, quick, quick, come in here." If you’d seen earlier footage, you’d see me calling for her while I’m laughing, She does that little pop and that’s it. It was really cool. I had to definitely do her movie, Dylan and Zoe that she’s producing and starring in as Zoe. I pop in playing a pod show host. We try to trade off with each other and work with each other whenever we can.
You sound very happy about this fun tribute.
It was a really cool way to pay tribute to the show and also expose the fans to a little more of my musical side. Every once in a while I’d do some freestyle videos on my Instagram. I love the term “Hero in a Hoodie.” It’s so subversive in many ways. There’s been so many negative connotations with that. When we got the very first pilot, I said, to see a black man running in a hoodie and he’s the hero scientist is an anomaly in the media so it’s really great to have this image out there. To put this idea out there of being a hero, to having an artist of color to represent this culture, the place I’m from. That is both Brooklyn and this way of dressing, but it’s also about science. I came from a background in science and math, and so it’s a very good way to merge all of those images and all of those ideas into one final tribute.
The marriage of cultures seems a natural for you, since you’re a graduate of one of NYC’s best schools, the math and science oriented Stuyvesant High School.
That is true.
What notes about Timeless are in the song?
What’s cool about this song is that there’s a reference to all the main characters and then a bunch of supporting characters throughout Season 2. There’s no references to the new movie, because I was afraid of getting in trouble with bosses. But there’s fun Easter eggs through the entire song, including how many times we got canceled and how emphatic the fans were in trying to get us back in so many different ways.
How are your Clock Blocker fans taking what seems to be the end of Timeless?
I don’t know if they know that it’s the end. They’re not ones to take things lying down. If they had things their way, we’d be on another network or doing a new Christmas movie or a special every year. They’re still not giving up. I was in New York for the holidays, when they had the movie advertised in Times Square. My flight was delayed, so around midnight I tweeted the fans and said, “Ok, is it up? I’m going there right now.” I got there and a couple of freezing fans were still there with their banners and I took pictures with them and some video. It was fun. I also think there’s a legacy that will always be there. The guys who made this got honored by the Smithsonian for goodness sake. Teachers are using the show for their syllabuses. I saw pictures of libraries that had whole Timeless sections focusing on the historic people and the periods that we dealt with. I think the show will have a legacy that outlives how long it’s actually been on television.
What’s next for you both as a musician and an actor? Will you be back on Preacher even though your vampire self was killed?
Verbal + Icarus have a new album, called Fun House. Actor/singer Brandon “Icarus V.” Scott, is my buddy since college. I’m the rapper, he’s the crooner. As Malcolm Barrett, I’m doing a new play in April that I wrote and star in called Brain Problems with my theater company Ammunition Theater. TV-wise, although Hoover met an ill fate on Preacher, I’m staying in the Garth Ennis and the [Eric] Kripke family, doing their new Amazon dark comedy superhero show The Boys, based on the comic. Also, coincidentally, Timeless’s Goran [Visnjic] and I both make appearances on the new season of Santa Clarita Diet, written by Victor Fresco who also wrote Better Off Ted. So, I guess I’m pretty much just working with people who like me which works out great cause I got love for ‘em, right back.
Timeless, Series Finale, Thursday, December 20, 8/7c, NBC