To capture the essence of what it means to be a "cutter," the cast
was sent to Mr. Voiner's Barber School in Los Angeles for a weeklong training
session to familiarize them with the artistry of cutting hair. Producer Tillman
says, "We looked at Barbershop like we did Men of Honor. We
had boot camp for the actors who played Navy Divers; this was boot camp for the
cutters. They had to learn how to cut hair, but also how to express themselves
with a customer, become a psychiatrist, become a friend, a coach. That's what
a barber is when they're working at a shop, and that's what these guys
learned over a period of time."
For some of the actors, cutting hair wasn't as easy as it looked. "We
learned different blades and how to actually hold clippers the right way,"
says Eve. "I had no idea what it would be like and no prior experience.
After we finished I realized it's just not for me. I'm just too nervous and
might cut a patch in somebody's head."
And though the actors felt comfortable and ready to use their "movie
clippers," none seemed too ready for a new career. "I messed up a
couple of heads and sent a couple people home a little ugly," says Sean
Patrick Thomas. "But that's part of the process, and you had to at least try it. I had fun and by the time we were done, I was pretty good. At
least basically competent at cutting heads," he laughs.
Cedric the Entertainer doesn't cut hair in the film, but he does perform a
different trick of the barber trade: the straight-razor shave. "The barber
consultant on the movie worked with me about the technique and what I should do
with the straight razor," he says. "Once I had the strokes down, it
was cool. I actually enjoyed it. I don't know if the actor getting shaved
enjoyed it as much, though. Only a few band-aids and some anesthetic
Robert Teitel and George Tillman, Jr., knew from the start they wanted to
bring Barbershop's production to Chicago. Teitel, who was born and
raised in the city, and Tillman, also a Midwesterner, met each other in Columbia
College's film school. After shooting their first feature, Scenes from the
Soul, and their breakout hit Soul Food in Chicago, they had
established strong bonds with its production community and love the look and
feel of the city.
"George and I have known most of these people for ten to twelve years,
so it feels comfortable for us to come here," says Teitel. "And the
talent is amazing here in Chicago. We're able to hire many people locally and
don't have to bring a lot of actors in from Los Angeles."
Of their commitment to shooting in Chicago, Tillman says, "I look at
filmmakers I admire like Spike Lee and Woody Allen. They make all of their films
out of New York. There haven't really been â€˜Chicago' filmmakers, but that's
how we look at ourselves. Barbershop takes place on 79th Street around
the South Side. It's meant to take place in Chicago, and the city's a
character of the film. For that reason, we wanted to come to the real place. We
didn't want to go to Toronto. We wanted to be with the same group of people we
worked with on Soul Food, people committed to the project who'd be
willing to work harder for us."
When scouting locations in Chicago, the production team had a surprisingly
easy time finding the perfect spot. "On our first day scouting, George, Tim
and I found this great street," says Teitel. "We saw a rows of
different storefronts and just knew it had to be the place. It was perfect, and,
to us, completely represented Chicago and what we were looking for."
Of course, one "very Chicago" thing the production had to deal with
was the weather. Production commenced in January, which means one thing to
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