A good rap for ‘Law & Order’

EntertainmentTelevisionCrime, Law and JusticeMusic IndustryVince VaughnMoviesSticky Fingaz

Ludacris is a busy man.

The Grammy-winning rapper (a.k.a. Chris Bridges) has acted in Oscar-winning films "Crash" and "Hustle & Flow;" he'll make a cameo in Vince Vaughn's holiday comedy "Fred Claus;" and he's even fit in some TV appearances, including an animated gig on "The Simpsons" and a recurring part on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," which wraps with the show's eighth season finale (airing Tuesday, May 22 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC). Phew.

The multi-talented man in demand dished about working alongside fellow rapper Ice-T, why musicians make acting look easy and how he might just be sampling those famous "L&O" theme song beats someday soon.

Did you want to be an actor growing up?
I love movies, but I never really thought about myself acting. John Singleton—who's famous for taking a lot of entertainers and putting them on the big screen— asked me to be in "2 Fast 2 Furious," which was my big first theatrical release. Even though it wasn't a stretch from my everyday personality, I kind of liked it and had fun with it. It motivated me to want to do more and try harder things to challenge myself.

Have you taken any acting lessons?
It's pretty much self-taught, just sitting down with the directors and the people I'm doing scenes with and understanding the character and the role. I've worked with some acting coaches here and there, but nothing major.

Ever since Frank Sinatra, musicians-turned-actors have been surprisingly good, and lately there've been more and more rappers like Ice-T, LL Cool J, Sticky Fingaz…how does being a musician make it easier to transition to acting?
I feel like I battle with being comfortable in front of the camera and being able to focus while there are so many people watching you. As far as music is concerned, we have emotions, we write them down and when we do videos, we act out our own emotions. So acting is the next step—acting out some emotion you have in your body or trying to put yourself in someone else's shoes.

So, how did you get the part on "SVU"?
You know, it was something I told my agency—one of my favorite shows is "SVU."

And what did you like about playing the role of Darius, a man who confessed to murdering a woman and her child?
It's always a twist on the show—it's interesting because they pull from real life stories. Sometimes you try to put things together and say, well this is going to happen…but I don't think people are anywhere close to understanding what'll happen in the episode I'm in. Just expect the unexpected.

Any chance you'll take a regular TV gig like Ice-T?
I mean, it has crossed my mind. Maybe in the future…you never know.

Speaking of Ice-T, do you two ever battle it out on set? Or do you try to separate rapping from acting?
We don't rap on the set or battle it out—we might tell old tour stories and things, but we're not focused on music while we're on set.

In other news, you just voiced a character for "The Simpsons" season finale—so funny!
Yeah, it was a small cameo. I want to say it's like a number-breaking episode, but I can't remember the exact number [Editor's note: The exact episode number was 400.]…I hadn't seen the finished version, so I was just as surprised as everybody else.

And you've got another movie coming out this year?
I did a small part in a movie with Vince Vaughn called "Fred Claus"—it comes out Nov. 9.

As a musician, what do you think of those two classic "Law & Order" notes—the "doink-doink," as some people call them?
I like them—I wish I could take them and sample them in a song. We may try to do that…

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