‘Bodied’ Director Joseph Kahn Says Writer Alex Larsen Has ‘Rabbit Hole of Genius’ (Exclusive Video)

TIFF 2017: Battle rap comedy puts a fish out of water in Oakland’s hip-hop scene

Last Updated: September 11, 2017 @ 3:18 PM

“Bodied,” a film about battle rappers, was a natural fit for an actual rapper to write. But director Joseph Kahn was still blown away by the talent of his writer, Canadian battle rapper Alex Larsen, also known as Kid Twist.

“It’s like a rabbit hole of genius over there,” Kahn told TheWrap CEO and editor in chief Sharon Waxman, saying he was particularly impressed by Larsen’s ability to write both sides of rap battles — in a variety of styles.

“Bodied” follows Adam, a student (Calum Worthy) who’s doing a research paper on the use of the N-word in rap battles, and attends a bunch of them with his fellow progressive, politically correct girlfriend. After inadvertently getting in a battle himself and winning, Adam finds himself thriving as a profane MC — to the dismay of his progressive group of friends.

Writing battle raps for a movie is different than writing them for an actual battle, which Larsen considered while he worked on the script.

“I’m used to writing in a context where there’s going to be someone else writing the opposite side of this, and I don’t know what they’re going to say,” he said.

But he found more freedom while writing “Bodied.”

“I can put the attacks wherever I want to structure it out to create the best dramatic storyline instead of actually having to be in competition” Larsen said.

 Kahn said there were a few specific battle rappers the two had in mind for roles opposite Worthy, and Larsen was even able to imitate their styles. The writer brought up one particularly memorable casting.

“We have the role Megaton in the movie, but it’s played by the real battle rapper Disaster,” Larsen said. “When we designed this character, we knew we wanted Disaster to play this role. Almost no role in the movie was written with someone specific in mind, except for that one. We knew it had to be Disaster; it couldn’t be anyone else.”

Larsen wrote the verses in Disaster’s style and then sent him the script.

“When Disaster got the script, he phoned me, because we know each other through battle rap. We’re friends,” Larsen said. “He said, ‘Twist, I love the script. I love the raps that you wrote for me. I can see you wrote in my style. It’s incredible. I’m going to rewrite it because mine will be better. But if you had written it better than me, I would have been so offended.”